Menthol is widely used in tobacco products. This study compared the effects of menthol on human bronchial epithelium using submerged cultures, a VITROCELL® cloud chamber that provides air liquid interface (ALI) exposure without solvents or heating, and a Cultex ALI system that delivers aerosol equivalent to that inhaled during vaping. In submerged culture, menthol significantly increased calcium influx and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) via the TRPM8 receptor, responses that were inhibited by a TRPM8 antagonist. VITROCELL® cloud chamber exposure of BEAS-2B monolayers increased mitochondrial protein oxidation, expression of the antioxidant enzyme SOD2, activation of NF-κB, and secretion of inflammatory cytokines (IL-6 and IL-8). Proteomics data collected following ALI exposure of 3D EpiAirway tissue in the Cultex showed upregulation of NRF-2-mediated oxidative stress, oxidative phosphorylation, and IL-8 signaling. Across the three platforms, menthol adversely effected human bronchial epithelium in a manner that could lead to respiratory disease.
Nair, V., Tran, M., Behar, R. Z., Zhai, S., Cui, X., Phandthong, R., ... & Volz, D. C. (2020). Menthol in Electronic Cigarettes: A Contributor to Respiratory Disease?