Simulation and evaluation of nicotine intake during passive smoking: cotinine measurements in body fluids of nonsmokers given intravenous infusions of nicotine

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1990 Jan;47(1):42-9. doi: 10.1038/clpt.1990.6.


The technique of monitoring cotinine concentrations in body fluids as a means of measuring nicotine intake during passive smoking has been evaluated in two studies, both of which used intravenous infusion to stimulate nicotine intake. In the first study, nicotine and cotinine were given separately, for 1 hour in four different intravenous doses (3.2, 15.4, 30.9, and 61.7 nmol/min) to each nonsmoker. In the second study, nicotine and cotinine were infused for 4 hours; each subject received five different doses of nicotine (1.5, 3.1, 6.2, 10.8, and 15.4 nmol/min) and one of cotinine (10.8 nmol/min). The concentration of cotinine was constant in both plasma and saliva from 1 to 4 hours after the nicotine infusion; the plateau levels of cotinine were found to be linearly and directly related to the nicotine intake. The ratio of salivary to plasma cotinine was 1:1.27. A linear relationship was also found between nicotine and cotinine infusion rates and the AUC values for cotinine. The fraction metabolized to cotinine was found to be about 0.5. The results from these studies show that: (1) there is a linear relationship between the plateau concentration of cotinine and the amount of nicotine infused over a period of 1 up to 4 hours; (2) salivary cotinine provides the same information on nicotine intake as does plasma cotinine; and (3) single measurements of either plasma or salivary cotinine concentrations at 1 to 4 hours after the exposure could be used to predict the nicotine intake during 1 to 4 hours of environmental tobacco smoke exposure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Fluids / metabolism*
  • Cotinine / blood
  • Cotinine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cotinine / urine
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Pyrrolidinones / pharmacokinetics*
  • Saliva / metabolism*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution*


  • Pyrrolidinones
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Nicotine
  • Cotinine