Six percent of Americans, including 3 million high schoolers, use e-cigarettes, which contain potentially toxic substances, volatile organic compounds, and metals. We present the first human study on the effects of e-cigarette exposure in the oral cavity. By interrogating both immunoinflammatory responses and microbial functional dynamics, we discovered pathogen overrepresentation, higher virulence signatures, and a brisk proinflammatory signal in clinically healthy e-cigarette users, equivalent to patients with severe periodontitis.
Using RNA sequencing and confocal and electron microscopy to validate these findings, we demonstrate that the carbon-rich glycol/glycerol vehicle is an important catalyst in transforming biofilm architecture within 24 hours of exposure. Last, a machine-learning classifier trained on the metagenomic signatures of e-cigarettes identified as e-cigarette users both those individuals who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking, and those who use both e-cigarettes and cigarettes.
The present study questions the safety of e-cigarettes and the harm reduction narrative promoted by advertising campaigns.