Chemical Adducts of Reactive Flavor Aldehydes Formed in E-Cigarette Liquids Are Cytotoxic and Inhibit Mitochondrial Function in Respiratory Epithelial Cells.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

INTRODUCTION: Flavor aldehydes in e-cigarettes, including vanillin, ethyl vanillin (vanilla), and benzaldehyde (berry/fruit), rapidly undergo chemical reactions with the e-liquid solvents, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerol (PG/VG), to form chemical adducts named flavor aldehyde PG/VG acetals that can efficiently transfer to e-cigarette aerosol. The objective of this study was to compare the cytotoxic and metabolic toxic effects of acetals and their parent aldehydes in respiratory epithelial cells. AIMS AND METHODS: Cell metabolic assays were carried out in bronchial (BEAS-2B) and alveolar (A549) epithelial cells assessing the effects of benzaldehyde, vanillin, ethyl vanillin, and their corresponding PG acetals on key bioenergetic parameters of mitochondrial function. The potential cytotoxic effects of benzaldehyde and vanillin and their corresponding PG acetals were analyzed using the LIVE/DEAD cell assay in BEAS-2B cells and primary human nasal epithelial cells (HNEpC). Cytostatic effects of vanillin and vanillin PG acetal were compared using Click-iT EDU cell proliferation assay in BEAS-2B cells. RESULTS: Compared with their parent aldehydes, PG acetals diminished key parameters of cellular energy metabolic functions, including basal respiration, adenosine triphosphate production, and spare respiratory capacity. Benzaldehyde PG acetal (1-10 mM) increased cell mortality in BEAS-2B and HNEpC, compared with benzaldehyde. Vanillin PG acetal was more cytotoxic than vanillin at the highest concentration tested while both diminished cellular proliferation in a concentration-dependent manner. CONCLUSIONS: Reaction products formed in e-liquids between flavor aldehydes and solvent chemicals have differential toxicological properties from their parent flavor aldehydes and may contribute to the health effects of e-cigarette aerosol in the respiratory system of e-cigarette users. IMPLICATIONS: With no inhalation toxicity studies available for acetals, data from this study will provide a basis for further toxicological studies using in vitro and in vivo models. This study suggests that manufacturers' disclosure of e-liquid ingredients at time of production may be insufficient to inform a comprehensive risk assessment of e-liquids and electronic nicotine delivery systems use, due to the chemical instability of e-liquids over time and the formation of new compounds.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jabba, SV; Diaz, AN; Erythropel, HC; Zimmerman, JB; Jordt, S-E

Published Date

  • December 15, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 22 / Suppl 1

Start / End Page

  • S25 - S34

PubMed ID

  • 33320255

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8224836

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1469-994X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/ntr/ntaa185


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England