Menthol in electronic cigarettes: A contributor to respiratory disease?

Vijayalekshmi Naira, Malcolm Trana, Rachel Z. Behara, Song Zhaib, Xinping Cuib, Rattapol Phandthonga, Yuhuan Wanga, Songqin Panc, Wentai Luod, James F. Pankowd, David C. Volze, Prue Talbot

Menthol is widely used in tobacco products. This study compared the effects of menthol on human bronchial epithelium using submerged cultures, a VITROCELL® cloud chamber that provides air liquid interface (ALI) exposure without solvents or heating, and a Cultex ALI system that delivers aerosol equivalent to that inhaled during vaping. In submerged culture, menthol significantly increased calcium influx and mitochondrial reactive
oxygen species (ROS) via the TRPM8 receptor, responses that were inhibited by a TRPM8 antagonist. VITROCELL® cloud chamber exposure of BEAS-2B monolayers increased mitochondrial protein oxidation, expression of the antioxidant enzyme SOD2, activation of NF-κB, and secretion of inflammatory cytokines (IL-6 and IL-8). Proteomics data collected following ALI exposure of 3D EpiAirway tissue in the Cultex showed upregulation of NRF-2-mediated oxidative stress, oxidative phosphorylation, and IL-8 signaling. Across the three platforms, menthol adversely effected human bronchial epithelium in a manner that could lead to respiratory disease.


menthol, tobacco products, EpiAirway (AIR-100), VITROCELL, NRF-2-mediated oxidative stress, oxidative phosphorylation, IL-8 signaling, LDH, TEER, IL-6, IL-8, propylene glycol, PTEN signaling, HIPPO signaling, cell proliferation, e-cigarettes, Cultex

Materials Tested

menthol, clean air, propylene glycol

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