Tuesday, 26 March 2024 13:53

E-cigarrettes can also trigger epigenetic changes in the genome Featured

In cell cultures obtained from volunteers, a team of scientists has discovered that tobacco consumption triggers profound epigenetic changes that are assumed to be associated with a long-term cancer risk. This apparently also applies to e-cigarettes, which are touted as an alternative.

DNA methylation is an important process in epigenetics. By attaching methyl groups to the cytosine base in certain gene regions, the activity of the affected genes can be suppressed. However, a person's epigenome is not fixed, but is influenced by lifestyle and environmental factors*.

For the investigations, cells from the cheeks, saliva, cervix and whole blood samples were obtained from healthy volunteers and than methylation analyses were carried out using a specific procedure. The investigations revealed that smoking leads to cell type-specific functional epigenetic changes in epithelial and immune cells, depending on their anatomical location. In people who have given up smoking, these cell type-specific effects of smoking are attenuated. The consumption of e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco alters the epigenome of oral epithelial cells in a similar way to cigarette smoking.

The consumption of cigarettes and e-cigarettes leads to cell- and exposure-specific epigenetic effects that could also predict lung cancer. The authors urge caution when recommending e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.

Original publication:
Chiara Herzog, Allison Jones, Iona Evans, Janhavi R. Raut, Michal Zikan, David Cibula, Andrew Wong, Hermann Brenner, Rebecca C. Richmond, Martin Widschwendter; "Cigarette smoking and e-cigarette use induce shared DNA methylation changes linked to carcinogenesis"; Cancer Research, 2024-3-19.

* https://www.lungeninformationsdienst.de/forschung/epigenetik/umwelteinfluesse