Study Links Vaping to Disease-Causing Genetic Changes
“A novel role for vaping in mitochondrial gene dysregulation and inflammation fundamental to disease development,” the current study was conducted by a team of researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. To conduct their analysis the researchers recruited a diverse group of 82 healthy adults and separated them into three groups: current vapers, with and without a prior history of smoking; people who exclusively smoke cigarettes; and a control group of never-smokers and never-vapers.
They then conducted a number of biochemical tests to detect any changes in gene regulation and comprehensive interview so as to be able to link test results with their consumption behaviour.
An article on News-Medical highlighted that on analysing the compiled data, the researchers found significant dysregulation of immune response genes in both vapers and smokers. However, the finding that was mostly emphasized on, is one based on computational modeling, suggesting “that ‘current’ vaping, but not ‘past’ smoking, is significantly associated with gene dysregulation in vapers.”
On the other hand, other tests indicated that smoking causes more genetic damage. “Comparative analysis of the gene networks and canonical pathways dysregulated in vapers and smokers showed strikingly similar patterns in the two groups, although the extent of transcriptomic changes was more pronounced in smokers than vapers. Of significance is the preferential targeting of mitochondrial genes in both vapers and smokers, concurrent with impaired functional networks, which drive mitochondrial DNA-related disorders. Equally significant is the dysregulation of immune response genes in vapers and smokers.”
A genetic predisposition to smoking initiation is associated with an increased risk of e-cig use
In other news, a recent study published on Plos Medicine looked into whether polygenic risk scores (PRS) for smoking initiation are associated with ever use of e-cigarettes. The study titled, “Association of genetic liability to smoking initiation with e-cigarette use in young adults: A cohort study,” aimed to determine whether the relationship between vaping and smoking is causal, or whether it exists due to shared factors that influence both behaviours, such as a genetic liability.
Smoking initiation PRS were calculated for 7,859 young adults. A total of 878 (30%) had ever used e-cigarettes at 24 years, and 150 (5%) were regular e-cigarette users at 24 years. The researchers looked for positive associations of similar magnitude between smoking initiation PRS and both smoking initiation and ever e-cigarette use by the age of 24 years, which would show that a genetic predisposition to smoking initiation is associated with an increased risk of e-cig use.
The compiled data did indeed find such an association. “Our results indicate that there may be a shared genetic aetiology between smoking and e-cigarette use, and also with socioeconomic position, externalising disorders in childhood, and risky behaviour more generally. This indicates that there may be a common genetic vulnerability to both smoking and e-cigarette use, which may reflect a broad risk-taking phenotype.”