Researchers Stick Their Nose In

Posted 27th June 2019 by Dave Cross
The American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine has published a new study by researchers at the University of Kansas, University of Miami and Mt. Sinai Medical Centre in Miami Beach. The senior author claims their findings from petri dishes and sheep ‘could’ cast doubts on vaping as a harm reduction method for smokers with COPD.

In "Electronic Cigarette Vapor with Nicotine Causes Airway Mucociliary Dysfunction Preferentially via TRPA1 Receptors", the research team claim to have discovered that vaping results “in a decreased ability to move mucus or phlegm across the surface” of the nose.

The group discovered this by subjecting human cells to vape dissolved in liquid and putting it into petri dishes – and by blowing vape at sheep.

They write: “The study found that vaping with nicotine impairs ciliary beat frequency, dehydrates airway fluid and makes mucus more viscous or sticky. These changes make it more difficult for the bronchi, the main passageways to the lung, to defend themselves from infection and injury.”

Senior author Matthias Salathe, chair of internal medicine and a professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Centre, said: “This study grew out of our team's research on the influence of tobacco smoke on mucus clearance from the airways. The question was whether vape containing nicotine had negative effects on the ability to clear secretions from the airways similar to tobacco smoke.”

“Vaping with nicotine is not harmless as commonly assumed by those who start vaping, At the very least, it increases the risk of chronic bronchitis," added Dr. Salathe. "Our study, along with others, might even question e-cigarettes as a harm reduction approach for current smokers with respect to chronic bronchitis/COPD."

In 2015, Dr Ricardo Polosa reported how smokers with COPD had “eventually quit tobacco smoking on their own by switching to an EC [electronic cigarette]. Significant improvement in quality of life and reduction in the number of disease exacerbations were noted. EC use was well tolerated with no reported adverse events.” [link]

This followed up a 2014 paper [link], where he said vaping could produce “subsequent improvements in asthma outcomes, this study shows that e-cigs can be a valid option for asthmatic patients who cannot quit smoking by other methods.”

Previously, Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos has said: “There is now evidence from clinical studies and research surveys that smokers with asthma and COPD who switched to regular e-cigarette use benefitted substantially, with improvements in their respiratory symptoms and lung function. Although prospective studies are needed to better define the harm reversal potential of e-cigarettes in patients with already-established lung disease, the available evidence is important because asthma and COPD patients are particularly vulnerable to respiratory irritants and the e-cigarette aerosol does not set off respiratory exacerbations.”

Resources:

  • "Electronic Cigarette Vapor with Nicotine Causes Airway Mucociliary Dysfunction Preferentially via TRPA1 Receptors” by Chung, Baumlin, Dennis, Moore, Salathe, Whitney, Sabater, Abraham, Kim and Salathe – [link]
 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker