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Do E-Cigarette Users Airways Have an Altered Lipid Content?

Principal Investigator: Robert Tarran

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health - Grant

ID number: 1R21HL153698-01

Award Date: 7/20/2020

Institution: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


In this study, researchers will use previously-collected serum, saliva, sputum, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from healthy never-smokers, tobacco smokers or vapers to determine whether the airways of e-cigarette users have an altered lipid (fat) content that may cause acute lung injury. Study aims are: (1) to determine the concentrations of lipid-associated surfactant proteins in samples of BALF, sputum and saliva from non-smokers, smokers and vapers; (2) to measure lung cell lipid content and stain alveolar macrophages (a type of white blood cell in the lung) with Oil Red O to look for altered lipid content in vapers’ alveolar macrophages and airway secretions; and (3) to study metabolites on samples of BALF, sputum and saliva from non-smokers, smokers and vapers. To achieve Aim 1, researchers will use western blotting techniques to determine the amounts of lipid-associated surfactant proteins in vapers’ airway secretions. To achieve Aim 2, researchers will use mass spectrometry as well as standard histological techniques to better understand the impact of lipid accumulation on vapers’ lungs. To achieve Aim 3, researchers will use mass spectrometry to determine levels of nicotine, cotinine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and metabolites that are associated with lung injury in vapers’, non-smokers’, and smokers’ lungs. Findings may inform future regulatory activities related to e-cigarettes. 

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