Cigarette smoking and tuberculosis are a significant cause of death worldwide. Several epidemiological studies have demonstrated cigarette smoking is a risk factor for tuberculosis. Electronic cigarettes have recently appeared as a healthier alternative to conventional smoking, although their impact in tuberculosis is not well understood. The aim of this study was to explore the effect of electronic cigarettes in phagocytosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and cytokines production. In vitro infection was carried out by exposing THP-1 macrophages to four electronic vapor extracts and the intracellular burden of M. tuberculosis was determined. The percentage of infection was evaluated by confocal microscopy and the cytokine production by Luminex. A reduction of intracellular M. tuberculosis burden in THP-1 macrophages was found after its exposure to electronic vapor extract; the same trend was observed by confocal microscopy when Mycobacterium bovis BCG-GFP strain was used. Electronic cigarettes stimulate a pro-inflammatory cytokine response. We conclude that electronic cigarettes impair the phagocytic function and the cytokine response to M. tuberculosis.
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