Pharmacogenetics of nicotine metabolism in twins: methods and procedures

Twin Res. 2004 Oct;7(5):435-48. doi: 10.1375/1369052042335269.


This article describes a pharmacogenetic investigation of nicotine metabolism in twins. One hundred and thirty-nine twin pairs (110 monozygotic and 29 dizygotic) were recruited and assessed for smoking status, zygosity, and health conditions known or suspected to affect drug metabolism. Participants underwent a 30-minute infusion of stable isotope-labeled nicotine and its major metabolite, cotinine, followed by an 8-hour in-hospital stay. Blood and urine samples were taken at regular intervals for analysis of nicotine, cotinine, and metabolites by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry or liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and subsequent characterization of pharmacokinetic phenotypes. DNA was genotyped to confirm zygosity and for variation in the primary gene involved in nicotine metabolism, CYP2A6. Univariate and multivariate biometric analyses planned for the future will determine genetic and environmental influences on each pharmacokinetic measure individually and in combination with each other, and in the presence and absence of covariates, including measured genotype. When the analyses are completed, this study will result in a more complete characterization of the impact of genetic and environmental influences on nicotine and cotinine metabolic pathways than has heretofore been reported. The approach taken, with its use of a quantitative model of nicotine metabolism, highly refined metabolic phenotypes, measured genotype, and advanced tools for biometric genetic analysis, provides a model for the use of twins in next-generation studies of complex drug-metabolism phenotypes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cotinine / administration & dosage
  • Cotinine / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / metabolism*
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Twins / metabolism*


  • Nicotine
  • Cotinine