Project Director

Carver, Ethan A.

Department Examiner

Kovach, Margaret J.; Potts, Gretchen; Kutz, Beverly


Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


E-cigarettes have become increasingly popular in the past decade. They are marketed as smoking cessation aids. These products have not been well regulated or researched with respect to health concerns and safety issues. A number of toxic compounds have been discovered in refill solutions, and the long-term effects of e-cigarette use are still largely unknown. Nicotine is one of the primary alkaloids within e-cigarette refill solutions. Nevertheless, other tobacco alkaloids are present including; cotinine, myosmine and anabasine, even though these compounds are not disclosed on the packaging. This study uses known amounts of tobacco alkaloids, in an in vitro culture system, to test the effects of these chemicals on the growth of human lung cells. Cell viability was measured as a function of metabolic ATP activity, using the Cell-Titer Glo Luminescent assay. Preliminary results from single alkaloid trials indicate generally decreased cell growth in response to each of the aforementioned alkaloids, in comparison to a control. Changes in gene expression may be linked to the development of tobacco-related diseases in humans. To address this issue, we used qRT-PCR to analyze gene expression for multiple markers associated with diverse cellular functions: adhesion (CEACAM6, CX3CL1), immune response (TLR4, CX3CL1, CEACAM6), xenobiotic metabolism (CYP1A1, AHR, ALDH3A1), oxidative stress (GPX2, ALDH3A1), putative oncogenes (PIR, CEACAM6), and putative tumor suppressor genes (SLIT1). These markers were selected because their dysregulation is implicated in carcinogenesis and tumorigenesis. Expression of these markers will be compared between cells treated with the aforementioned alkaloids and control cultures. Our results show significant (p<0.05) differential expression of TLR4, CEACAM6, ALDH3A1, and PIR in response to alkaloid exposure. This project illustrates the need for more research on the contents and physiological effects of refill solutions, and the requirement for better labeling and regulation of refill solutions.


Provost Student Research Award UTC-CRISP Award


B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.




Electronic cigarettes, Toxicology


Cell Biology; Molecular Biology; Electronic Cigarettes; Cancer; Genetics


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



97 leaves




Under copyright.