Inhalation Toxicology – 2013

Cytotoxicity evaluation of electronic cigarette vapor extract on cultured mammalian fibroblasts (ClearStream-LIFE): comparison with tobacco cigarette smoke extract

Giorgio Romagna1, Elena Allifranchini1, Elena Bocchietto1, Stefano Todeschi1, Mara Esposito1, and Konstantinos E. Farsalinos2

1Abich srl, biological and chemical toxicology research laboratory, Verbania (VB), Italy and 2Department of Cardiology, Onassis Cardiac Surgery Cente, Kallithea, Greece


Context: Electronic cigarettes (ECs) are used as alternatives to smoking; however, data on their cytotoxic potential are scarce.

Objective: To evaluate the cytotoxic potential of 21 EC liquids compared to the effects of cigarette smoke (CS).

Methods: Cytotoxicity was evaluated according to UNI EN ISO 10993-5 standard. By activating an EC device, 200mg of liquid was evaporated and was extracted in 20 ml of culture medium. CS extract from one cigarette was also produced. The extracts, undiluted (100%) and in five dilutions (50%, 25%, 12.5%, 6.25% and 3.125%), were applied to cultured murine fibroblasts (3T3), and viability was measured after 24-hour incubation by 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay. Viability of less than 70% was considered cytotoxic.

Results: CS extract showed cytotoxic effects at extract concentrations above 12.5% (viability: 89.1±3.5% at 3.125%, 77.8±1.8% at 6.25%, 72.8±9.7% at 12.5%, 5.9±0.9% at 25%, 9.4±5.3% at 50% and 5.7±0.7% at 100% extract concentration). Range of fibroblast viability for EC vapor extracts was 88.5–117.8% at 3.125%, 86.4–115.3% at 6.25%, 85.8–111.7% at 12.5%, 78.1–106.2% at 25%, 79.0–103.7% at 50% and 51.0–102.2% at 100% extract concentration. One vapor extract was cytotoxic at 100% extract concentration only (viability: 51.0±2.6%). However, even for that liquid, viability was 795% higher relative to CS extract.

Conclusions: This study indicates that EC vapor is significantly less cytotoxic compared tobacco CS. These results should be validated by clinical studies.

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