In utero exposures to electronic-cigarette aerosols impair the signaling during mouse lung development

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Currently, more than 9 million American adults, including women of childbearing age, use electronic-cigarettes (e-cigs). Further, the prevalence of maternal vaping now approaching 10% is similar to that of maternal smoking. Little, however, is known about the effects of fetal exposures to nicotine-rich e-cig aerosols on lung development. In this study, we assessed whether in utero exposures to e-cig aerosols compromised lung development in mice. A third-generation e-cig device was used to expose pregnant BALB/c mice by inhalation to 36 mg/mL of nicotine cinnamon-flavored e-cig aerosols for 14-31 days. This included exposures for either 12 days before mating plus during gestation (preconception groups) or only during gestation (prenatal groups). Respective control mice were exposed to filtered air. Subgroups of offspring were euthanized at birth or at 4 wk of age. Compared with respective air-exposed controls, both preconception and prenatal exposures to e-cig aerosols significantly decreased the offspring birth weight and body length. In the preconception group, 7 inflammation-related genes were downregulated, including 4 genes common to both dams and fetuses, denoting an e-cig immunosuppressive effect. Lung morphometry assessments of preconception e-cig-exposed offspring showed a significantly increased tissue fraction at birth. This result was supported by the downregulation of 75 lung genes involved in the signaling, which is essential to lung organogenesis. Thus, our data indicate that maternal vaping impairs pregnancy outcomes, alters fetal lung structure, and dysregulates the signaling. This study provides experimental evidence for future regulations of e-cig products for pregnant women and developmentally vulnerable populations.

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American journal of physiology. Lung cellular and molecular physiology

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