A recent study published in the journal of Respiratory Research found that e-cigarettes may have similar effects to traditional cigarettes on bacteria linked to smoking-related diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. Although e-cigarettes are considered safe alternatives to cigarettes, recent studies have shown that acute lung disease may be associated with the use of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes as well as conventional cigarettes.
The study was carried out by a team from the school of pharmacy at queen’s university in Belfast. They exposed haemophilus influenzae, streptococcus pneumoniae, staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas aeruginosa to cigarette smoke extract or e-cigarette vapor extract for culture. Control bacteria were cultured in the absence of cigarette smoke and e-cigarette vapor extract.
Exposure to cigarette smoke or e-cigarette vapor extract does not appear to have a detrimental effect on the growth of these bacteria. However, exposure to these extracts increased the biofilm formation of these bacteria.
Biofilms are aggregates of one or more types of microorganisms, and the proliferation of biofilms is known to be a process of infection by many different types of microorganisms. The findings may indicate that cigarette smoke and e-cigarette vapors can increase the harmful effects of common lung pathogens and accelerate the formation of persistent infections.
Further studies found that human lung cells infected with bacteria secreted more interleukin-8 when exposed to cigarette smoke extract or e-cigarette vapor extract. This suggests that exposure to cigarette smoke and e-cigarette vapor has similar effects on bacterial behavior and pathogenicity.