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Principal Investigator: Aherrera, Angela
Institute Receiving Award Johns Hopkins University
Location Baltimore, MD
Grant Number K99ES034507
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 01 Sep 2022 to 31 Aug 2024
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): PROJECT SUMMARY My long-term goal is to become an independent investigator focusing on how pollutant exposures may adversely affect respiratory health and identify measures to effectively mitigate such exposures. My primary project objective is to investigate the exposure and toxicity of chemical constituents of concern (CCOC), namely metal and aldehydes, as well as the pulmonary health effects, including inflammation, of using new and emerging electronic cigarette (e-cig) devices among young adults. E-cig devices work by heating a mixture of chemicals to generate an aerosol that is inhaled by the user. Use of e-cigs has increased and, among adults, remains the highest among those aged 18 to 24 years. More recent e-cig devices such as disposable PODs have grown in popularity, yet it is currently unknown whether these new devices’ design characteristics in conjunction with user vaping regimen impact CCOC exposure and influence respiratory health. Thus, my specific aims are to 1) evaluate the relationship between e-cig use and CCOC exposure and effect, 2) assess the association of e-cig use with respiratory outcomes and inflammatory markers, and 3) assess CCOC exposure as a mixture and potential mediator in e-cig related respiratory health outcomes. In this cross-sectional study, to achieve Aim 1 (K99 phase), 150 participants (75 e-cig users, 75 non-users) will be recruited to assess biomarkers of exposure (aldehydes, metals) and effect (metallothionein) from e-cig use. This will leverage the ongoing EMIT study which looks at metal exposure and collects e-cig user regimen via questionnaire, aerosol samples, biospecimens (blood, urine), and spirometry measures. After receiving training in chemical analysis, respiratory clinical outcomes, and inflammatory markers, including gene expression changes, a new cohort of 150 participants (75 e-cig users, 75 non-users) will be recruited for Aim 2 (R00 phase). This phase will not only collect the same data as in Aim 1 but also biomarkers of effect and inflammation (blood, urine, FeNO) and gene expression profiles (in nasal epithelial cells). Whether e-cig users have increased respiratory symptoms, inflammation and altered gene expression profiles compared to non-users will be evaluated. Combining Aims 1 and 2 cohorts (n= 300), Aim 3 will employ the use of Bayesian and causal mediation methods to assess if CCOC exposure is positively associated with and explains, at least in part, the respiratory effects from e-cig use. With the proliferation of newer e-cig devices, there is an urgent need to characterize exposure and respiratory health effects resulting from their use. This study has the potential to generate critical data to inform FDA regulation to limit adverse exposures and health outcomes and curb the increasing prevalence of use among young adults. Through this research, my didactic coursework, and the guidance of my mentoring team consisting of a pulmonologist, exposure scientist, immunologist, analytical chemist, and environmental epidemiologist, I will acquire critical skills needed to be a successful independent researcher in environmental health and tobacco control.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 69 - Respiratory
Secondary: 03 - Carcinogenesis/Cell Transformation
Publications See publications associated with this Grant.
Program Officer Frederick Tyson