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Biomarkers of disease can be detected in mice as early as 4 weeks after initiation of exposure to third-hand smoke levels equivalent to those found in homes of smokers.

  • Author(s): Adhami, Neema
  • Chen, Yuxin
  • Martins-Green, Manuela
  • et al.

Third-hand smoke (THS) is a newly discovered environmental health hazard that results from accumulation and aging of second-hand smoke (SHS) toxins on surfaces where smoking has occurred. Our objective was to determine whether there is a time-dependent effect of THS exposure on health. Using an in vivo exposure mouse system that mimics exposure of humans to THS, we investigated its effects on biomarkers found in serum, and in liver and brain tissues. Mice were exposed to THS for 1, 2, 4, or 6 months and brain, liver, and serum were collected. We found that THS exposure, as early as 1 month, resulted in increased circulating inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor by an order of magnitude of 2 and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor by an order of magnitude of 1.5 and in increases in the stress hormone epinephrine and the liver damage biomarker aspartate aminotransferase (AST), increased in magnitude 1.5 and 2.5 times compared with controls, respectively. THS exposure for 2 months resulted in further damage and at 4 and 6 months, many factors related to oxidative stress were altered and caused molecular damage. We also found that the mice became hyperglycemic and hyperinsulinimic suggesting that insulin resistance (IR) may be a significant consequence of long-term exposure to THS. In conclusion, time-dependent THS exposure has a significant effect on health as early as 1 month after initiation of exposure and these alterations progressively worsen with time. Our studies are important because virtually nothing is known about the effects of increased THS exposure time, they can serve to educate the public on the dangers of THS, and the biomarkers we identified can be used in the clinic, once verified in exposed humans.

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