Background and aims: Electronic cigarette (EC) use is popular among youth, touted as a safer alternative to smoking and promoted as a tool to aid in smoking cessation. EC cardiovascular safety however is not well established. The aim of this study was to examine cardiovascular consequences of EC use by evaluating their effect on the entire atherosclerotic cascade in young adults using noninvasive combined positron emission tomography (PET)/magnetic resonance imaging (MR) and comparing EC use with age matched smokers of traditional cigarettes and nonsmoking controls. Methods: Carotid PET/MR was applied to look at vascular inflammation (18-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-PET) and plaque burden (multi-contrast MR of vessel wall) from 60 18-30 year-old subjects (20 electronic cigarette users, 20 traditional smokers and 20 nonsmokers). Results: Groups were reasonably well balanced in terms of age, gender, demographics, cardiovascular risk and most biomarkers. There were no differences in vascular inflammation as measured by 18-FDG-PET target to background ratios (TBR) between EC users, traditional cigarette smokers and nonsmokers. However, measures of carotid plaque burden − wall area, normalized wall index, and wall thickness − measured from MR were significantly higher in both traditional smokers and EC users than in nonsmokers. Conclusions: Young adult EC users, smokers and nonsmokers in our study did not exhibit vascular inflammation as defined by 18-F-FDG-PET TBR max, but smokers and EC users had significantly more carotid plaque burden compared to matched nonsmokers. Results could indicate that vaping does not cause an increase in vascular inflammation as measured by FDG-PET.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-116
Number of pages7
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Electronic cigarettes
  • MR
  • Smoking


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