It is still early days for research into the long-term effects of e-cigarette use. Cursory studies are discovering e-cigarettes can potentially cause some damage to the lungs but so far it is unclear exactly what that means for human health. Indications are e-cigarettes do not seem to be nearly as harmful as traditional tobacco cigarettes, but they certainly are not harmless.
This new research set out to explore the effect of e-cigarette vapor on gut lining using both animal and human cell models. The experiments eliminated nicotine and flavoring chemicals to concentrate on propylene glycol and vegetable glycerol – the two chemicals used as a base in all vaping liquids.
Here the researchers discovered chronic exposure to these e-cigarette vapors resulted in the breakdown of specific proteins known as tight junction markers. These proteins act as a physical barrier lining the gut and their breakdown can trigger subsequent gut inflammation.
“This is the first study that demonstrates how chronic exposure to e-cigarettes increases the gut’s susceptibility to bacterial infections, leading to chronic inflammation and other health concerns,” says Soumita Das, another researcher working on the new study.