In 2020, 3.7% of U.S. adults currently used electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)1 with 18.5% of users reporting gingival pain and or oral bleeding2 making this a concerning human health threat. Chemical Insights Research Institute (CIRI) of Underwriters Laboratories, in partnership with Purdue University and Georgia State University, has been awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to establish the risk factors and biomarkers of gingival inflammation, the precursor to periodontal disease, associated with ENDS usage.
ENDS are battery-powered devices used to smoke or “vape” a solution called an e-liquid. Recent evidence indicates e-liquids and ENDS aerosol ingredients are oral health hazards that may increase the risk of periodontal disease3 especially in vulnerable populations such as African Americans. These hazardous chemical mixtures may cause disease risks, but there is a lack of data linking ENDS preference, usage behavior, and oral health outcomes.
Drs. Christa Wright, director of toxicology at Chemical Insights and Jonathan Shannahan, assistant professor at Purdue University, are serving as Principal Investigators for this landmark study to understand oral disease onset to allow for early screening and development of treatment options. The study includes recruiting never-established smokers and current and exclusive ENDS users.
The researchers aim to link consumer vaping behavior data obtained through questionnaires and puffing topography studies to adverse clinical and molecular outcomes in study participants. Specifically, collected biosamples will be evaluated for biomarkers of exposure and injury including alterations within the epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) pathway, which are thought to be involved in periodontal disease development.
“CIRI is pleased to expand its research on the human health hazards of ENDs products with the exploratory application of human biomarkers for studying chemical exposure and health outcomes,” says Dr. Marilyn Black, vice president and senior technical advisor at Chemical Insights. “Findings from our research will be beneficial to dental professionals in the identification of individuals at risk for ENDS-related oral health effects and can lead to important prevention strategies.”