Effect of electronic cigarettes on human middle ear

Jae Jun Song, Yoon Young Go, Ji Yoen Mun, Sehee Lee, Gi Jung Im, Yoo yon Kim, Jun Ho Lee, Jiwon Chang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are the most commonly used electronic nicotine delivery systems and are a relatively new product designed for smoking cessation. The market scale of electronic cigarettes is growing rapidly, but the potential impact of e-cigarettes on public health has not yet been verified. In this study, we examined the effect of e-liquids on a human middle ear epithelial cell (HMEEC) line. Material and methods: The main components of e-liquids are propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and flavoring agents with or without nicotine. We analyzed 73 bottles of e-liquids from 12 different manufacturers, evaluated the trace elements in e-liquids, and identified the cytotoxicity of e-liquids on HMEECs in the presence or absence of nicotine. Results: In the trace elements analysis, nickel, arsenic, cadmium, and lead were detected in the e-liquids. E-liquids without nicotine decreased cell viability, and the average IC 50 value of total e-liquids (n = 73) was 2.48 ± 0.93%. Among the different flavors, menthol-flavored e-liquids significantly reduced cell viability, and their average IC 50 value (n = 28) was 1.85 ± 0.80%. The average IC 50 values were distinct among manufacturers and the proportion of the solvents. Conclusion: The present study provides evidence that e-cigarettes influence and reduce human middle ear cell viability even without the application of nicotine. Additionally, the cytotoxicity of e-liquids was affected by the flavoring agents.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)67-71
    Number of pages5
    JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
    Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea ( NRF-2015R1C1A1A01054397 )+ HURF-201614 .

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2018 Elsevier B.V.


    • Cytotoxicity
    • Electronic cigarette
    • Heavy metals
    • Human middle ear epithelial cells
    • Otitis media

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
    • Otorhinolaryngology


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