Frontal cortex transcriptome analysis of mice exposed to electronic cigarettes during early life stages

Dana E. Lauterstein, Pamella B. Tijerina, Kevin Corbett, Betul Akgol Oksuz, Steven S. Shen, Terry Gordon, Catherine B. Klein, Judith T. Zelikoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), battery-powered devices containing nicotine, glycerin, propylene glycol, flavorings, and other substances, are increasing in popularity. They pose a potential threat to the developing brain, as nicotine is a known neurotoxicant. We hypothesized that exposure to e-cigarettes during early life stages induce changes in central nervous system (CNS) transcriptome associated with adverse neurobiological outcomes and long-term disease states. To test the hypothesis, pregnant C57BL/6 mice were exposed daily (via whole body inhalation) throughout gestation (3 h/day; 5 day/week) to aerosols produced from e-cigarettes either with nicotine (13-16 mg/mL) or without nicotine; following birth, pups and dams were exposed together to e-cigarette aerosols throughout lactation beginning at postnatal day (PND) 4-6 and using the same exposure conditions employed during gestational exposure. Following exposure, frontal cortex recovered from ~one-month-old male and female offspring were excised and analyzed for gene expression by RNA Sequencing (RNA-Seq). Comparisons between the treatment groups revealed that e-cigarette constituents other than nicotine might be partly responsible for the observed biological effects. Transcriptome alterations in both offspring sexes and treatment groups were all significantly associated with downstream adverse neurobiological outcomes. Results from this study demonstrate that e-cigarette exposure during early life alters CNS development potentially leading to chronic neuropathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number417
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 12 2016


  • Central nervous system
  • Development
  • E-cigarettes
  • Frontal cortex
  • Nicotine
  • Pathway analysis
  • RNA Sequencing
  • Transcriptome

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