PNNL scientists discover how vape smoke affects lungs

RICHLAND, Wash. – A recent study from scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory showed the potentially harmful effects of e-cigarettes on the lungs.

Before, researchers didn’t have too much information about what actually happens to the body when someone vapes, but thanks to a technique developed at PNNL, they’re making even more discoveries.

They’re started to find the proteins and structures that are being impacted within the lungs.

“We always think (sic) there’s maybe some cellular function compromised, right? In vaping, smoking, or some other pollutant. My technique measures protein oxidation, [which] means it measures protein function,” Wei-Jun Qian with PNNL said.

Qian, a Bioanalytical Chemist with PNNL said they found structural changes on a molecular level in rat lungs.

The animal part of the study was done at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. Charles Ansong, who has since joined the National Institute of Health, worked with Qian and Matthew McGraw, with the University.

The rats inhaled propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and nicotine, common ingredients in a vape pen.

“Is there any protein molecular change, is indicative of protein function changes,” Qian said.

With modified lung proteins, Qian said this could lead to stress on the lungs.

So what does this mean for humans?

“Rationally thinking, if you have a chronic stress like based on our observation it may lead to something,” Qian said they still don’t know exactly how it affects human lungs.

The researcher said their initial findings will hopefully open up more doors for future research on the effects of e-cigarettes. They hope to look into flavor additives as well as dosage and exposure time.

“We plan to do some more detailed research at more of a molecular level but also the different component of e-cigarettes. So we have the exposure component we have the molecular component what is – the chemical component?” he explained.

The full article can be read here.