Catania, 21 April 2022- The debate over the safety and efficacy of electronic cigarettes demands strong and accurate evidence by the scientific community. The growing body of knowledge on alternative nicotine delivery systems and the potential benefits for human health if compared to conventional cigarettes pushed researchers to analyze ecig liquids, which differ in nicotine percentages, type and flavors.
The e-liquid consist largely of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, and a smaller part of food chemical flavorings and nicotine (which may also be absent). Substances mixed according to the quality of the liquid or the specific marketing of the product.
The potential risk of e-liquids is connected to the presence or absence of heavy metal residues or nanoplastics and microplastics in the liquids themselves.
By testing some liquids sold in Italy and present also in foreign markets, Coehar researchers analyzed four different e-liquids (flavored with different varieties of tobacco) by Dreamods.
The results of the study published by the prestigious scientific magazine “Drug Testing & Analysis” showed no contaminants in all e-liquids and a metal content below the levels permitted by WHO for drinking-waters.
Data in line with European public authorities quality standards on production and marketing of vaping products.
Once the low risk profile of alternative nicotine delivery system is assessed, the authors of the study believe that the best way to protect the health of vapers is to prefer high-quality products.
During the study conducted in CoEHAR labs in Catania, thanks to the collaboration of the spin off ECLAT and the use of the most innovative evaluation systems in the world, the researchers, in addition to excluding the presence of contaminants derived from metals and microplastics and nanoplastics, investigated the vapor cytotoxic effect in normal human bronchial epithelial cells by a number of in vitro assays, compared to cigarette smoke.
The exposure system to cigarette smoke and e-cig vapor used in the labs off the research center in Catania reproduce the human exposure of lung cells to the daily use of cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, thus reporting certain and irrefutable results.
Researchers used a smoking machine and a vaping machine to generate respectively the cigarette smoke and the vaping aerosol.
The exposure of bronchial cells to cigarette smoke and e-cig vapor was carried out using a biological exposure chamber containing the cells and connected to the machines in order to simulate a physiologically relevant exposure for a smoker or a vape.
The cytotoxicity effect was assessed using two different technologies: Real-Time Cell-based Assay technology (xCELLigence) and High Content Screening technology (Operetta). The latter was also used for the assessment of mitochondria integrity (mitochondria generate most of the chemical energy needed to power the cell’s biochemical reactions ).
Moreover, researchers evaluated the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the aerosol of the 4 liquids analyzed (“Dolce Bacco”, “Red Bacco”, “Deciso” e “Otello) and in the cigarette smoke.
Prof. Massimo Caruso of the University of Catania and author of the study is: “satisfied with the significantly reduced (about 80% less) cytotoxic effect of the aerosol of all four liquids compared to cigarette smoke”.
Data confirmed by prof. Giovanni Li Volti, director of CoEHAR who added: “The cells exposed to e-cig vapors also maintained excellent integrity of the mitochondria, highlighting a negligible effect, not significant even on cellular metabolism. Furthermore, no production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and therefore of oxidative stress in the electronic cigarette aerosol was detected”.
Results that increasingly support international data confirming the reduced toxicity of electronic cigarettes compared to conventional smoking and the benefits, in terms of health, for those smokers who decide to use them to quit smoking.