vapers more sensitive to respiratory viruses than regular smokers


  • Vapers showed more changes in immune genes in their virus-fighting respiratory cells and suppressed antibody level.
  • The immune change is even more pronounced in e-cigarette users than in smokers.
  • The deletion of genes questions the effectiveness of vaccines.

As winter approaches and in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, these results are not encouraging for vapers. Researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill (United States) have found that e-cigarette consumers are more susceptible to respiratory viruses than the rest of the population, including traditional cigarette smokers. They also exhibit suppressed antibodies, suggesting that the vaccines will be less effective. The results of this study were presented on October 23 in the medical journal American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology.

The e-cigarette worse than the cigarette

Smoking electronic cigarettes modifies our body’s response to respiratory viruses, such as influenza or Covid-19. “There have been a lot of questions on the ground as to whether the use of e-cigarettes and cigarettes is beneficial or harmful or problematic in terms of Covid, and we really haven’t had a good answer.”, Continues Meghan Rebuli, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UNC and author of the study.

Vapers showed more changes in immune genes in their virus-fighting respiratory cells and suppressed antibody level. By comparing vapers, traditional smokers and non-smokers, the researchers found that the immune change is even more pronounced in e-cigarette users than in smokers. “The use of electronic cigarettes is neither safer nor safer than cigarettes, and this is a very important message to remember, supports Meghan Rebuli. You probably shouldn’t inhale any type of tobacco related product as it alters your immune response to viruses..”

Vaccines less effective in smokers

The study focused on the immune response to a certain influenza pattern but “results suggest e-cigarette users are likely more susceptible to respiratory viruses like Covid-19 than non-smokers”, Adds the researcher. Scientists inoculated the participants, who mix cigarette or e-cigarette smokers and non-smokers, with a live attenuated influenza virus, a modeled influenza infection that allows researchers to safely examine immune responses. After comparing nasal fluid and other patient biomarkers, the researchers did not find that viral load differed between the three study groups, but found in smokers a decrease in immune gene expression. essential for defense against a virus as well as genes that help train the body to prevent reinfection. “It’s not good”Responded Ilona Jaspers, director of the UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology.

We don’t want to see any suppression of genes, proteins and antibodies involved in an immune response”, Shared Meghan Rebuli. Yet this is what she and her colleagues have found in classic smokers and vapers. This could be worrying news for the effectiveness of vaccines in this population, the researchers say. These genes are important in helping the immune system recognize a virus it has already encountered. “Your body can recognize the virus and create a kind of immune memory that prevents you from getting a later infection, she explained. This is how a vaccine works.”

The question is whether a vaccine that is 90% effective will also be effective in e-cigarette users or will they have a hard time generating this immune memory?”Asks Meghan Rebuli. The latter adds that further studies are needed to study this in reaction to Covid-19 as the American laboratory Moderna has just announced that its vaccine candidate has an efficacy of 94.5%, Pfizer that his works 90% and Sputnik V, the Russian candidate, 92%.


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