Not all vaping is the same: differential pulmonary effects of vaping cannabidiol versus nicotine
Rationale: Vaping has become a popular method of inhaling various psychoactive substances. While evaluating respiratory effects of vaping have primarily focused on nicotine-containing products, cannabidiol (CBD)-vaping is increasingly becoming popular. It currently remains unknown whether the health effects of vaping nicotine and cannabinoids are similar.
Objectives: This study compares side by side the pulmonary effects of acute inhalation of vaporised CBD versus nicotine.
Methods: In vivo inhalation study in mice and in vitro cytotoxicity experiments with human cells were performed to assess the pulmonary damage-inducing effects of CBD or nicotine aerosols emitted from vaping devices.
Measurements and main results: Pulmonary inflammation in mice was scored by histology, flow cytometry, and quantifying levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines. Lung damage was assessed by histology, measurement of myeloperoxidase activity and neutrophil elastase levels in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and lung tissue. Lung epithelial/endothelial integrity was assessed by quantifying BAL protein levels, albumin leak and pulmonary FITC-dextran leak. Oxidative stress was determined by measuring the antioxidant potential in the BAL and lungs. The cytotoxic effects of CBD and nicotine aerosols on human neutrophils and human small airway epithelial cells were evaluated using in vitro air-liquid interface system. Inhalation of CBD aerosol resulted in greater inflammatory changes, more severe lung damage and higher oxidative stress compared with nicotine. CBD aerosol also showed higher toxicity to human cells compared with nicotine.
Conclusions: Vaping of CBD induces a potent inflammatory response and leads to more pathological changes associated with lung injury than vaping of nicotine.
Keywords: innate immunity; oxidative stress.
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2023. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.
Conflict of interest statement
Competing interests: MLG reports research grant from Pfizer and personal fees from Johnson & Johnson, outside of this work.