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Often used as an alternative to traditional smoking, e-cigarettes (EC) come with their own health risks. E-cigarettes produce a stress response in neural stem cells, which are critical cells in the brain, finds a study. The study published in the journal 'iScience' used cultured mouse neural stem cells and identified the mechanism underlying EC-induced stem cell toxicity as 'stress-induced mitochondrial hyperfusion,' or SIMH. "SIMH is a protective and survival response. Our data show that exposure of stem cells to e-liquids, aerosols, or nicotine produces a response that leads to SIMH," said Prue Talbot, lead researcher of the study.Talbot stressed that youth and pregnant women need to pay especially close attention to their results. “Their brains are in a critical developmental stage," said Talbot.