Stable isotope studies of nicotine kinetics and bioavailability

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1991 Mar;49(3):270-7. doi: 10.1038/clpt.1991.28.


The stable isotope-labeled compound 3',3'-dideuteronicotine was used to investigate the disposition kinetics of nicotine in smokers, the systemic absorption of nicotine from cigarette smoke, and the bioavailability of nicotine ingested as oral capsules. Blood levels of labeled nicotine could be measured for 9 hours after a 30-minute intravenous infusion. Analysis of disposition kinetics in 10 healthy men revealed a multiexponential decline after the end of an infusion, with an elimination half-life averaging 203 minutes. This half-life was longer than that previously reported, indicating the presence of a shallow elimination phase. Plasma clearance averaged 14.6 ml/min/kg. The average intake of nicotine per cigarette was 2.29 mg. A cigarette smoke-monitoring system that directly measured particulate matter in smoke was evaluated in these subjects. Total particulate matter, number of puffs on the cigarette, total puff volume, and time of puffing correlated with the intake of nicotine from smoking. The oral bioavailability of nicotine averaged 44%. This bioavailability is higher than expected based on the systemic clearance of nicotine and suggests that there may be significant extrahepatic metabolism of nicotine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Biological Availability
  • Deuterium*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Smoking / metabolism


  • Nicotine
  • Deuterium