Pathophysiologic effects of waterpipe (shisha) smoke inhalation on liver morphology and function in mice

Abderrahim Nemmar, Sumaya Beegam, Priya Yuvaraju, Nur Elena Zaaba, Ozaz Elzaki, Javed Yasin, Ernest Adeghate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: The global prevalence of waterpipe tobacco smoking is increasing. Although the cardiorespiratory, renal, and reproductive effects of waterpipe smoking (WPS) are well-documented, there is limited knowledge regarding its adverse impact on the liver. Therefore, our study aimed to assess the effects and potential mechanisms of WPS inhalation for one or four weeks on the liver. Main methods: Mice were exposed to WPS for 30 min per day, five days per week, while control mice were exposed to clean air. Key findings: Analysis using light microscopy revealed the infiltration of immune cells (neutrophils and lymphocytes) accompanied by vacuolar hepatic degeneration upon WPS inhalation. At the four-week timepoint, electron microscopy analysis demonstrated an increased number of mitochondria with a concomitant pinching-off of hepatocyte plasma membranes. WPS exposure led to a significant rise in the activities of liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase in the bloodstream. Additionally, WPS inhalation elevated lipid peroxidation and reactive oxygen species levels and disrupted the levels of the antioxidant glutathione in liver tissue homogenates. The concentration of proinflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin (IL)-6, and IL-1β, was significantly increased in the WPS-exposed group. Furthermore, WPS inhalation induced DNA damage and a significant increase in the levels of cleaved caspase-3, cytochrome C and hypoxia-inducible factor 1α along with alterations in the activity of mitochondrial complexes I, II, III and IV. Significance: Our findings provide evidence that WPS inhalation triggers changes in liver morphology, oxidative stress, inflammation, DNA damage, apoptosis, and alterations in mitochondrial activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122058
JournalLife Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2024


  • DNA damage
  • Inflammation
  • Liver injury
  • Oxidative stress
  • Waterpipe smoke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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