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Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use has grown substantially since inception, particularly among adolescents and combustible tobacco users. Several cigarette smoke constituents with known neurovascular effect are present in e-cigarette liquids or formed during the vapor generation. The present study establishes inhaled models of cigarette and e-cigarette use with normalized nicotine delivery, then characterizes the impact on blood-brain barrier (BBB) function. Sequencing of microvessel RNA following exposure revealed downregulation of several genes with critical roles in BBB function. Reduced protein expression of Occludin and Glut1 is also observed at the tight junction in all groups following exposure. Pro-inflammatory changes in leukocyte-endothelial cell interaction are also noted, and mice exposed to nicotine-free e-cigarettes have impaired novel object recognition performance. On this basis, it is concluded that long term e-cigarette use may adversely impact neurovascular health. The observed effects are noted to be partly independent of nicotine content and nicotine may even serve to moderate the effects of non-nicotinic components on the blood-brain barrier. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Nathan A Heldt, Alecia Seliga, Malika Winfield, Sachin Gajghate, Nancy Reichenbach, Xiang Yu, Slava Rom, Amogha Tenneti, Dana May, Brian D Gregory, Yuri Persidsky. Electronic cigarette exposure disrupts blood-brain barrier integrity and promotes neuroinflammation. Brain, behavior, and immunity. 2020 Aug;88:363-380

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PMID: 32243899

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