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Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are rapidly increasing in popularity due to the perception that they may represent a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes. However, a growing body of evidence indicates that ENDS exposure can disrupt maintenance of pulmonary immune homeostasis and antimicrobial immunity. In this issue of the JCI, Madison et al. demonstrate that in mice, chronic ENDS exposure induces profound alterations in lipid homeostasis. ENDS-exposed mice showed irregularities in the surfactant-secreting lamellar bodies within type 2 alveolar cells and increased intracellular phospholipid accumulation within alveolar macrophages. Moreover, ENDS-exposed mice displayed greater inflammation and tissue damage in response to influenza A, which may be due to downregulated expression of a viral pattern-recognition receptor in alveolar macrophages. Collectively, the results of this study identify previously unrecognized adverse effects of ENDS exposure on pulmonary lipid metabolism, although the implication of these effects on long-term respiratory health requires future exploration.
Aran Singanayagam, Robert J. Snelgrove