DOI: 10.1161/strokeaha.123.046101 ISSN: 0039-2499

Electronic Cigarette Vape Exposure Exacerbates Post-Ischemic Outcomes in Female but Not in Male Rats

Hari Pradhyumnan, Shahil H. Patel, Ofelia Furones-Alonso, Weizhao Zhao, Helen M. Bramlett, Ami P. Raval
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Neurology (clinical)


Nicotine-containing electronic cigarette (EC) vaping has become popular worldwide, and our understanding of the effects of vaping on stroke outcomes is elusive. Using a rat model of transient middle cerebral artery occlusion, the current exploratory study aims to evaluate the sex-dependent effects of EC exposure on brain energy metabolism and stroke outcomes.


Adult Sprague-Dawley rats of both sexes were randomly assigned to air/EC vapor (5% nicotine Juul pods) exposure for 16 nights, followed by randomization into 3 cohorts. The first cohort underwent exposure to air/EC preceding randomization to transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (90 minutes) or sham surgery, followed by survival for 21 days. During the survival period, rats underwent sensorimotor and Morris water maze testing. Subsequently, brains were collected for histopathology. A second cohort was exposed to air/EC after which brains were collected for unbiased metabolomics analysis. The third cohort of animals was exposed to air/EC and received transient middle cerebral artery occlusion/sham surgery, and brain tissue was collected 24 hours later for biochemical analysis.


In females, EC significantly increased ( P <0.05) infarct volumes by 94% as compared with air-exposed rats, 165±50 mm 3 in EC-exposed rats, and 85±29 mm 3 in air-exposed rats, respectively, while in males such a difference was not apparent. Morris water maze data showed significant deficits in spatial learning and working memory in the EC sham or transient middle cerebral artery occlusion groups compared with the respective air groups in rats of both sexes ( P <0.05). Thirty-two metabolites of carbohydrate, glycolysis, tricarboxylic acid cycle, and lipid metabolism were significantly altered ( P ≤0.05) due to EC, 23 of which were specific for females. Steady-state protein levels of hexokinase significantly decreased ( P <0.05) in EC-exposed females; however, these changes were not seen in males.


Even brief EC exposure over 2 weeks impacts brain energy metabolism, exacerbates infarction, and worsens poststroke cognitive deficits in working memory more in female than male rats.

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