Tobacco addiction remains one of the largest preventable causes of disease and death worldwide. Recently, the use of nicotine e-cigarettes has dramatically increased among many populations, including youth. These devastating trends have been paralleled by the increasing mortality rate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With these infections, symptoms range from mild to severe. Cigarettes and other chemical constituents in vape solutions may induce inflammation and damage lung tissue, thereby potentially leading to more severe symptomology with viral infection. In lung tissue, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) mechanistically underlies viral entry of COVID-19. In this talk, I will discuss our recent findings that have examined the effects of e-cigarette vapor inhalation on ACE2 and nicotinic acetylcholine receptor expression in male and female mice. Together, we reveal a mechanistic link between e-cigarette vaping and ACE2 expression, which supports the contention that nicotine vaping contributes to individual vulnerability for coronavirus infection.
Dr. Christie Fowler is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California Irvine. Her research aims to elucidate the neurobiological, epigenetic and extracellular signaling mechanisms underlying drug addiction. Dr. Fowler currently serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of Neuroscience, eNeuro and Neuropsychopharmacology, and on the executive committee for the Irvine Center for Addiction Neuroscience (ICAN). Of further note, Dr. Fowler received the highly prestigious Avenir Award from NIDA, and she was highlighted as a ‘Scientist to Watch’ by The Scientist magazine.