Effect of electronic cigarettes on human middle ear

Jae-Jun Song, Yoon Young Go, Ji Yoen Mun, Sehee Lee, Gi Jung Im, Yoo yon Kim, Jun Ho Lee, Jiwon Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are the most commonly used electronic nicotine delivery systems and are a relatively new product designed for smoking cessation. The market scale of electronic cigarettes is growing rapidly, but the potential impact of e-cigarettes on public health has not yet been verified. In this study, we examined the effect of e-liquids on a human middle ear epithelial cell (HMEEC) line. Material and methods: The main components of e-liquids are propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and flavoring agents with or without nicotine. We analyzed 73 bottles of e-liquids from 12 different manufacturers, evaluated the trace elements in e-liquids, and identified the cytotoxicity of e-liquids on HMEECs in the presence or absence of nicotine. Results: In the trace elements analysis, nickel, arsenic, cadmium, and lead were detected in the e-liquids. E-liquids without nicotine decreased cell viability, and the average IC 50 value of total e-liquids (n = 73) was 2.48 ± 0.93%. Among the different flavors, menthol-flavored e-liquids significantly reduced cell viability, and their average IC 50 value (n = 28) was 1.85 ± 0.80%. The average IC 50 values were distinct among manufacturers and the proportion of the solvents. Conclusion: The present study provides evidence that e-cigarettes influence and reduce human middle ear cell viability even without the application of nicotine. Additionally, the cytotoxicity of e-liquids was affected by the flavoring agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-71
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun 1


  • Cytotoxicity
  • Electronic cigarette
  • Heavy metals
  • Human middle ear epithelial cells
  • Otitis media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology

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