Predicting molecular mechanisms, pathways, and health outcomes induced by Juul e-cigarette aerosol chemicals using the Comparative Toxicogenomics Database


There is a critical need to understand the health risks associated with vaping e-cigarettes, which has reached epidemic levels among teens. Juul is currently the most popular type of e-cigarette on the market. Using the Comparative Toxicogenomics Database (CTD;, a public resource that integrates chemical, gene, phenotype and disease data, we aimed to analyze the potential molecular mechanisms of eight chemicals detected in the aerosols generated by heating Juul e-cigarette pods: nicotine, acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, free radicals, crotonaldehyde, acetone, pyruvaldehyde, and particulate matter. Curated content in CTD, including chemical-gene, chemical-phenotype, and chemical-disease interactions, as well as associated phenotypes and pathway enrichment, were analyzed to help identify potential molecular mechanisms and diseases associated with vaping. Nicotine shows the most direct disease associations of these chemicals, followed by particulate matter and formaldehyde. Together, these chemicals show a direct marker or mechanistic relationship with 400 unique diseases in CTD, particularly in the categories of cardiovascular diseases, nervous system diseases, respiratory tract diseases, cancers, and mental disorders. We chose three respiratory tract diseases to investigate further, and found that in addition to cellular processes of apoptosis and cell proliferation, prioritized phenotypes underlying Juul-associated respiratory tract disease outcomes include response to oxidative stress, inflammatory response, and several cell signaling pathways (p38MAPK, NIK/NFkappaB, calcium-mediated).

Authors: Cynthia J Grondin, Allan Peter Davis, Jolene A Wiegers, Thomas C Wiegers, Daniela Sciaky, Robin J Johnson, Carolyn J Mattingly
; Full Source: Current research in toxicology 2021 Aug 5;2:272-281. doi: 10.1016/j.crtox.2021.08.001.