Effects of cigarette smoking and carbon monoxide on nicotine and cotinine metabolism

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2000 Jun;67(6):653-9. doi: 10.1067/mcp.2000.107086.


Objectives: To examine the effects of cigarette smoking on the disposition kinetics of nicotine and cotinine, to determine the effects of cigarette smoking on pathways of nicotine and cotinine metabolism, and to test the hypothesis that carbon monoxide inhibits the metabolism of nicotine.

Study design: Twelve cigarette smokers were studied in three treatment conditions, each lasting 7 days, during which they smoked cigarettes, breathed carbon monoxide to achieve carboxyhemoglobin levels similar to cigarette smoking, or breathed air. In each treatment condition, subjects received a combined infusion of deuterium-labeled nicotine (d2) and cotinine (d4), with measurement of disposition kinetics and urine metabolite profile.

Results: Cigarette smoking significantly inhibited the metabolism of nicotine but had no effect on cotinine metabolism. Cigarette smoking markedly induced the O-glucuronidation of trans-3'-hydroxycotinine but had no effect on the N-glucuronidation of nicotine or cotinine. Carbon monoxide had no effect on nicotine or cotinine kinetics or metabolic profile.

Conclusions: This study confirms previous observations that cigarette smoking inhibits nicotine metabolism but disproves the hypothesis that this effect is due to carbon monoxide. Induction of glucuronidation must be considered in understanding the effects of cigarette smoking on drug metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbon Monoxide / adverse effects*
  • Carbon Monoxide / metabolism
  • Cotinine / metabolism*
  • Cotinine / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Glucuronides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / metabolism*
  • Nicotine / pharmacokinetics
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / metabolism


  • Glucuronides
  • Nicotine
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Cotinine