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Individual donor cultures exposed to cannabis smoke showed a decrease in epithelial barrier function.
February 23, 2021 • • 18 minutes ago • • 3 minutes read Photo by yodiyim / iStock / Getty Images Plus
A team of researchers from McMaster University and the University of Waterloo suggest that a 3D-printed “lung simulator” they developed can recreate what happens in the lungs when weed is smoked. This information could prove useful in developing recreational and medicinal cannabis health policies.
Using commercially available design software and a 3D printer, researchers developed and validated a novel 3D printed “In Vitro Exposure System (IVES) that can directly study the effects of cannabis smoke exposure on primary human bronchial epithelial cells,” explains the research paper published on ERJ Open Research.
According to 3D Printing Industry, the team made a lung-like, four-chamber IVES with two inlets, four outlets, and four chamber caps.
Each cannabis sample used in the experiments consisted of approximately 0.7 grams of dried flower, the bud purchased from the Ontario Cannabis Store with a Research License approved by Health Canada. The use of a cloud of smoke, separated by three puffs of fresh room air, was used to mimic the behavior of human smoke patterns.
“Our results suggest that individual donor cultures exposed to cannabis smoke in IVES showed a decrease in epithelial barrier function compared to controls exposed to air,” the authors of the study write. “The cytotoxicity of the cells was only minimally affected by our model,” the results continue.
When human airway epithelial cells were exposed to cannabis smoke using IVES, there were changes in cell morphology and disruption of barrier function without significant cytotoxicity. Other parameters also confirmed “Effects of IVES smoke exposure in human airway epithelial cells at the molecular level”.
Photo of development and validation of an open source disposable 3D printed in vitro environmental exposure system for transwell culture deployments, ERJ Open Research
Airway epithelial dysfunction “was heavily involved in the pathogenesis of many respiratory diseases, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis,” the study said. But there is also the risk of the same respiratory diseases due to environmental influences that can damage the airway epithelium.
Both tobacco and cannabis smoking are two examples of such direct environmental influences, according to the study’s authors. Both environmental exposures are associated with a higher prevalence of coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and a higher risk of developing COPD, although the two are different in lung cancer.
“Tobacco smoker [are] Lung cancer is more likely to develop compared to cannabis smokers, ”the researchers point out, possibly due to the anti-inflammatory properties of phytocannabinoids that are unique to weeds.
The researchers note that the development and validation of an inexpensive in vitro environmental exposure system “will increase the ability of researchers to conduct essential research related to exposure to cannabis smoke and lung health”.
Additive manufacturing technologies “have accelerated the prototyping steps while reducing costs so that researchers with limited design training can optimize novel designs regardless of historical manufacturing constraints,” they write.
Photo by Getty Images
However, the researchers acknowledge that the conditions used in the study “represent a single possible combination that does not provide concentration response results that can be affected by the length of time for combustion, the frequency and volume of inhalation / exhalation, and the mass of cannabis burned. “
Overall, however, further research into the effects of cannabis smoke is required. “The uncertainty surrounding the health effects of cannabis smoke and the discrepancies with the known negative effects of tobacco smoke require further study to inform government policies, recreational practices and cultivation strategies at a time of increasing acceptance of legal and open markets,” researchers say.
Noting that IVES is an accessible, open source exposure system that can be used to model different types of cannabis smoke exposures, the researchers recommend: “The increasing legalization of cannabis on a global scale must be accompanied by research into the potential health effects of lung exposure . “
Future studies can expand applications to examine different concentrations, smoke durations, smoking durations, simultaneous exposure to pathogens, or the introduction of steam technologies.
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