Nicotine metabolism, human drug metabolism polymorphisms, and smoking behavior

Authored by  A R Tricker

Published in Toxicology     


Large interindividual differences occur in human nicotine disposition, and it has been proposed that genetic polymorphisms in nicotine metabolism may be a major determinant of an individual's smoking behaviour. Hepatic cytochrome P4502A6 (CYP2A6) catalyses the major route of nicotine metabolism: C-oxidation to cotinine, followed by hydroxylation to trans-3′-hydroxycotinine. Nicotine and cotinine both undergo N-oxidation and pyridine N-glucuronidation. Nicotine N-1-oxide formation is catalysed by hepatic flavin-containing monooxygenase form 3 (FMO3), but the enzyme(s) required for cotinine N-1′-oxide formation has not been identified. trans-3′-Hydroxycotinine is conjugated by O-glucuronidation. The uridine diphosphate-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) enzyme(s) required for N- and O-glucuronidation have not been identified. CYP2A6 is highly polymorphic resulting in functional differences in nicotine C-oxidation both in vitro and in vivo; however, population studies fail to consistently and conclusively demonstrate any associations between variant CYP2A6 alleles encoding for either reduced or enhanced enzyme activity with self-reported smoking behaviour. The functional consequences of FMO3 and UGT polymorphisms on nicotine disposition have not been investigated, but are unlikely to significantly affect smoking behaviour. Therefore, current evidence does not support the hypothesis that genetic polymorphisms associated with nicotine metabolism are a major determinant of an individual's smoking behaviour and exposure to tobacco smoke. 

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