ENDS use among college students: Salivary biomarkers and persistent cough

Kristin Ashford, Andrea McCubbin, Mary Kay Rayens, Amanda Wiggins, Kylie Dougherty, Jamie Sturgill, Melinda Ickes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Though e-cigarette aerosol has been associated with altered lung cell function, few studies have examined the effects of use on immune response and respiratory symptoms. The purpose of this study was to examine if recent persistent cough or cytokine levels are related to Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) use in college students. In April 2019, 61 undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky completed surveys and provided a salivary sample to evaluate cytokine levels (Interleukin (IL-) 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13 and TNFα, INFγ), using quota sampling to obtain comparable numbers of ENDS users and non-ENDS users. Data analysis included chi-square tests and multivariable logistic and linear regression. All ENDS users reported JUUL as their primary product. ENDS users were more likely to be younger, use cigarettes and marijuana, and report a persistent cough. Controlling for cigarette and marijuana use, there was a trend toward greater likelihood of persistent cough among ENDS users. Compared with nonusers, salivary IL-2 and INFγ were elevated and IL-4 was decreased, controlling for cigarette and marijuana use. There was a trend toward lower IL-12p70 values among ENDS users with these covariates. Findings reveal dysregulation of salivary immune profiles toward a TH1 phenotype in emerging adult ENDS users and short-term immune function may be dysregulated in young adult e-cigarette users.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106462
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Additional support was provided by the University of Kentucky Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTTS) [grant number NIH CTSA UL1TR000117] through the REDCap research project database.

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by pilot funding from the University of Kentucky College of Nursing, Office of the Dean.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Cough
  • Cytokines
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS)
  • Emerging adult
  • Respiratory
  • Tobacco products

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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