Identification of biomarkers specific to five different nicotine product user groups: Study protocol of a controlled clinical trial

Contemp Clin Trials Commun. 2021 Jun 2;22:100794. doi: 10.1016/j.conctc.2021.100794. eCollection 2021 Jun.


Background: Assessing biomarker profiles in various body fluids is of large value to discern between the sole use of nicotine products. In particular, the assessment of the product compliance is required for long-term clinical studies. The objective of this study was the identification of biomarkers and biomarker patterns in body fluids, to distinguish between combustibles, heated tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, oral tobacco and oral/dermal nicotine products used for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), as well as a control group of non-users.

Methods: A controlled, single-center study was conducted with 60 healthy subjects, divided into 6 groups (5 nicotine product user groups and one non-user group) based on their sole use of the products of choice. The subjects were confined for 76 h, during which, free and uncontrolled use of the products was provided. Sample collections were performed according to the study time schedule provided in Table 2. The primary outcome will be validated through analysis of the collected biospecimens (urine, blood, saliva, exhaled breath and exhaled breath condensate) by means of untargeted omics approaches (i.e. exposomics, breathomics and adductomics). Secondary outcome will include established biomarker quantification methods to allow for the identification of typical biomarker patterns. Statistical analysis tools will be used to specifically discriminate different product use categories.

Results/conclusions: The clinical trial was successfully completed in May 2020, resulting in sample management and preparations for the quantitative and qualitative analyses. This work will serve as a solid basis to discern between biomarker profiles of different nicotine product user groups. The knowledge collected during this research will be required to develop prototype diagnostic tools that can reliably assess the differences and evaluate possible health risks of various nicotine products.

Keywords: Adductomics; Biomarkers of exposure; Biomarkers of potential harm; Breathomics; Exposomics; Nicotine delivery products.