Importance of Nicotine Metabolism in Understanding the Human Biology of Nicotine

  • Neal L. Benowitz
Part of the APS Advances in Pharmacological Sciences book series (APS)


Consideration of pharmacokinetic and metabolic processes is essential to our understanding of the effects of nicotine and tobacco in people. Metabolic studies indicate rapid metabolism, which explains low oral bioavailability and physiological influence such as food on the rate of nicotine metabolism. Individual variability in rate of metabolism may explain in part individual differences in tobacco consumption and/or adverse effects of tobacco use. Some metabolites of nicotine, such as nicotine Δ-l′-(5′)-iminium ion, beta-nicotyrine, cotinine or nornicotine, may have pharmacologic activities that could contribute to the effects of nicotine. Studies of nicotine metabolism also provide a basis for biochemical assessment of nicotine exposure from tobacco or environmental tobacco smoke.


Environmental Tobacco Smoke Smokeless Tobacco Human Biology Nicotine Exposure Liver Blood Flow 
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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neal L. Benowitz
    • 1
  1. 1.San Francisco General Hospital Medical CenterUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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