In today’s society, there is a popular trend known as e-cigarettes, and/or “vaping.
” According to U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, e-cigarette use among both youth and young adults has increased considerably in recent years. From the past three years, students in grades 6 through 12 had tried e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices used by people to inhale vapor, which contains different amounts of nicotine, flavorings and other random chemicals. The use of e-cigarettes can cause nicotine addiction and can also cause a higher risk for addiction to other drugs (U.
S. Surgeon General’s Report). The U.S.
Surgeon General’s Report states, that “E-cigarette use poses a significant – and avoidable – health risk to young people in the United States. Besides increasing the possibility of (nicotine) addiction, it can cause long-term harm to brain development and respiratory health.” The long -term respiratory health damage will affect the lungs. The respiratory system consists many body parts but the main one is lungs. The main function of the respiratory system is the exchange of gases between the outside environment and the bloodstream. This exchange of gases requires the movement of air through the conducting airways to alveoli where fresh air is exposed to capillary blood from the pulmonary circulation (Sisson, 2007, 1).
The continuous conducting and cleaning of the airway is done by airway cilia through ciliary actions. Cilia is a critical component because they are hair-like projections on airway epithelial cells that move in metachronal waves and work in conjunction with mucus to clear the airway of inhaled particulates. (Leopold, 2009, 8157). A study done by Leopold showed several reports that demonstrated that cigarette smoke reduces ciliary beat frequency and interrupts the intercellular coordination of the metachronal waves.
The studies specifically showed that smoking-associated increased incidence of structural defects in cilia. The structural defects included missing radial spokes, nexin links, central sheath, outer and inner dynein arms, and central microtubules, as well as more peripheral doublets and fused cilia (Leopold, 2009, 8157). This can be used to interpret that people who use e-cigarettes have damaged cilia and reduced ciliary beat frequency due to the nicotine consumed through e-cigarettes.
In this experiment, in order to test cilia and ciliary activity, Tetrahymena is used. According to the article, Tetrahymena in the Classroom, Tetrahymena is an organism that is simple in structure and function. The flexibility in structure and function allows researchers to test and manipulate its characteristics to investigate different hypothesis. In Tetrahymena, its’ cilia is the main structure that promotes movement and function.
Therefore, in this experiment, Tetrahymena is used because its’ cilia mimic the ones in human lungs and helps understand the effects of nicotine in e-cigarettes and how it alters the length of cilia and the frequency of beats.