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E-cigarette & vape exposure models

E-Cigarette & Vaping

The harmful effects of tobacco smoke exposure are well documented. Yet research is still necessary to understand the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms and there is a pressing need for new therapeutic agents to treat patients. Scientific evidence is also needed to understand the risks associated with vapour exposure from electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in order to guide the decision-making process for the use of these nicotine delivery devices. The rapid adoption of e-cigarettes, especially amongst the youth, has spurred a rush to fill the knowledge gap pertaining to the safety profile for the users and the environment. Learn more from an expert at the forefront of e-cigarette research.

For more information on our pulmonary equipment for classic cigarette and cannabis exposure studies, please feel free to visit our Tobacco and Cannabis Studies page. 

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Versatile, programmable, reproducible

As a broad overview, an Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) unit is a battery-powered device which heats up a metal resistive coil to produce an inhalable vapour of an e-liquid, without tobacco combustion. This e-liquid typically consists of Propylene Glycol (PG) and Vegetable Glycerin (VG) along with optional nicotine or flavourings. Originally designed to provide a perceived safer alternative and cessation tool for cigarette addition, the clinical risks associated with ENDS use, effectiveness for smoking cessation and overall toxicity are highly controversial.

Since studies assessing the impact of smoke are typically conducted over a prolonged time period, it is therefore important to consistently and reproducibly introduce the same smoke composition for each experimental session. To best create these translatable pre-clinical animal models, it is necessary to standardize factors such as puff frequencies and topographies, exposure concentrations, e-liquid composition and device generation/brand to ensure consistent E-cigarette Vapour Deposition. Using the inExpose system, researchers create accurate and reproducible models of smoke exposure using automated generation of vapour along with customizable puffing volumes and frequencies.

There are two different e-cigarette accessories for the inExpose system, MOD-e-cigarettes and Pod style e-cigarettes, both capable of customizable puffing profiles.

The recent publication by Noël et al. entitled Generation of Electronic Cigarette Aerosol by a Third-Generation Machine-Vaping Device: Application to Toxicological Studies, is a noteworthy example to accelerate and harmonize e-cig research findings through the use of reproducible exposure environments.

Effects of short‐term electronic (e)‐cigarette aerosol exposure in the mouse larynx. (2024). Easwaran, M., et al. Laryngoscope, 134(3): 1316-1326

Vaping-Dependent Pulmonary Inflammation Is Ca2+ Mediated and Potentially Sex Specific. (2024). Shipman, J.G., et al. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 25(3), 1785

Increased oxidative stress responses in murine macrophages exposed at the air-liquid interface to third- and fourth-generation electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) aerosols. (2023). Pinkston, R., et al. Toxicology Reports, 11, 40-57

Sex-Specific Alterations of the Lung Transcriptome at Birth in Mouse Offspring Prenatally Exposed to Vanilla-Flavored E-Cigarette Aerosols and Enhanced Susceptibility to Asthma. (2023). Noel, A., et al. Int. Journal. Environ. Res. Public Health 20(4), 3710

E-cigarette exposure causes early pro-atherogenic changes in an inducible murine model of atherosclerosis. (2023). Alakhtar, B., et al. Frontiers Toxicology, 5, 1244596

Chronic low-level JUUL aerosol exposure causes pulmonary immunologic, transcriptomic, and proteomic changes. (2023). Been, T., et al. FASEB Journal, 37(2): e22732

Pulmonary immune response regulation, genotoxicity, and metabolic reprogramming by menthol- and tobacco-flavored e-cigarette exposures in mice. (2023). Muthumalage, T., et al. Toxicological Sciences, 193(2): 146-165

Multi-omic assessment shows dysregulation of pulmonary and systemic immunity to e-cigarette exposure. (2023). Sciesza, D.P., et al. Respiratory Research, 138(24)

Switching from tobacco cigarettes in very early pregnancy: The effects of in utero e-cigarette exposure on mouse offspring neurodevelopment and behaviour. (2023). Bakker, C., et al. Physiology & Behavior, 263, 114118

Rat bronchoalveolar lavage proteome changes following e-cigarette aerosol exposures. (2023). Day, N.J., et al. Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, 324(5): 571-583

Effects of Electronic (E)-cigarette Vapor and Cigarette Smoke in Cultured Vocal Fold Fibroblasts. (2022). Martinez, J., et al. Laryngoscope, 133(1): 139-146

E-cigarette exposure augments murine abdominal aortic aneurysm development: role of Chil1. (2022). Mulorz, J., et al. Cardiovascular Research, 119(3): 867-878

Maternal electronic cigarette use during pregnancy affects long-term arterial function in offspring. (2022). Aboaziza, E., et al. Journal of Applied Physiology, 134(1): 59-71

Quantitative, integrative and translational outcomes

The structural and inflammatory impact of e-cigarette smoke exposure on the respiratory system can be characterized by evaluating detailed changes in lung function. The flexiVent permits a detailed lung function assessment, including lung compliance, mechanical properties of the parenchyma, pressure volume loops, total lung volumes along with clinically-translatable forced expired volumes & capacities (FEV/FVC).

References & Publications

Reliable and effective in vitro exposure

Aerosol exposure studies conducted at the air/liquid interface are more scientifically relevant and predictive of human biology than in vitro studies conducted in submerged culture. The use of Transwells® permeable supports allows cells to uptake and secrete molecules separately on both their basal and apical surfaces, thereby carrying out metabolic activities in a more natural fashion. The ExpoCube replicates human physiology more closely than traditional cellular exposure systems by preventing the exposure of the culture medium (i.e. the blood side) to the gas phase, thereby creating a more natural or “lung-like” exposure profile.

References & Publications

Reliable physiological biopotential signals

easyTEL implantable telemetry acquires multiple biopotentials (EEG, EMG, ECG, EOG), blood pressure, temperature, and activity to study changes in sleep in relation to epilepsy, hypertension, circadian rhythms, and more in small to large animals.

While the small animal implants acquire up to 2 biopotentials for up to 150 days, the large animal implants can record up to 4 biopotentials for up to 125 days.


Dr. Loren Wold

Dr. Wold’s lab studies the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on cardiac function, the effects of e-cigarette usage on the cardiovascular system, and the cardiac effects of dust from the collapsed World Trade Center on first responders in a preclinical model. Learn more about his research and get his thoughts on the current state and future of inhalation toxicology research in this interview.

Dr. Jessica Oakes &
Dr. Chiara Bellini

Dr. Oakes and Dr. Bellini research focuses on the pulmonary and cardiovascular consequences of inhaled cannabis. This group is at the forefront of preclinical respiratory research for cannabis. We were lucky enough to sit down with them and get their thoughts on the current state and future of cannabis-related cardiopulmonary research.

Pre-Clinical Models Of Smoke Exposure

In this on demand panel discussion, experts at the forefront of inhalation toxicology research delve into the topic of Pre-Clinical Models of Smoke Exposure. Drs. Alex Carll, Laura Crotty Alexander, Carolyn Baglole, and Alexandra Noël will provide deeper analysis of pre-clinical smoke modelling and the cardiopulmonary outcomes. 

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