Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.


Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login


E-cigarette flavourings may damage blood vessels, researchers say

A study examining the effect of e-cigarette flavourings on vascular health has shown increased inflammation and impared nitric oxide production.

Close up of human blood vessels


An in-vitro study investigating the link between e-cigarette flavourings and venous health has shown increased markers for endothelial damage

Flavourings added to e-cigarettes and other tobacco products appear to harm the endothelial lining of blood vessels, say the authors of a recent paper.

The in-vitro study showed that exposing endothelial cells to flavouring compounds led to an increase in inflammation and impaired nitric oxide production, both of which are markers for endothelial damage.

“Increased inflammation and a loss of nitric oxide are some of the first changes to occur leading up to cardiovascular disease and events like heart attacks and stroke, so they are considered early predictors of heart disease,” said the lead author, Jessica Fetterman of the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute, Boston, Massachusetts. “Our findings suggest that these flavouring additives may have serious health consequences.”

The research, published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology[1], explored the effects of the flavouring compounds menthol or eugenol (clove flavouring) exposure on vascular endothelial cells from nine non-smokers matched to six menthol and six non-menthol cigarette smokers.

They found that cells from smokers of either type of cigarette already exhibited impaired stimulated nitric oxide production and exposure to menthol or eugenol induced a similar response in cells from non-smokers.

They then exposed commercially available human aortic endothelial cells to the flavourings vanillin, menthol, cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, dimethylpyrazine (strawberry), diacetyl (butter), isoamyl acetate (banana), eucalyptol and acetylpyridine (burnt) for 90 minutes at various concentrations.

The team found that, at biologically relevant concentrations, vanillin, menthol, cinnamaldehyde, eugenol and acetylpyridine all induced both impaired nitric oxide production and increased inflammation.

The researchers said that future research would need to look at the effects of heating on the toxicity of these compounds, and establish their concentrations in bloodstream after e-cigarette use.

In 2017, an EU directive created increased restrictions on the sale of flavoured cigarettes, which will be completely unavailable in the UK from 2020. However, different rules apply to e-cigarettes.

This latest piece of research follows a statement from the Forum of International Respiratory Societies calling for e-cigarettes to be regulated in the same way as tobacco to minimise harm to children and young people.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205032

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Supplementary images

  • Close up of human blood vessels

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.