Effects of cotinine on cigarette self-administration

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1998 Jul;138(2):184-9. doi: 10.1007/s002130050661.


Previous studies have shown that cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine, antagonizes some of the effects of nicotine. One study showed that cotinine eliminates the beneficial effects of the nicotine patch in reducing cigarette withdrawal symptoms. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of various doses of cotinine on cigarette self-administration. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three doses of cotinine fumarate (40, 80 and 160 mg) and placebo, each for a period of 10 days, in a randomized order. Outcome variables included measures of nicotine intake and subjective responses to smoked cigarettes. Results showed no differences in the number of cigarettes smoked, carbon monoxide levels, and weights of cigarette butts across the various doses of cotinine and placebo. However, higher nicotine serum levels were observed in the 160 mg cotinine fumarate condition compared to placebo and to 40 mg cotinine fumarate. No systematic effects of cotinine on subjective responses to cigarettes were observed. Cotinine appears potentially to have a selective modulatory effect on nicotine withdrawal symptoms but not on cigarette smoking.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cotinine / administration & dosage
  • Cotinine / adverse effects
  • Cotinine / blood
  • Cotinine / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Extinction, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Self Administration
  • Smoking / drug therapy*
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Smoking Cessation


  • Nicotine
  • Cotinine