Accumulation of nicotine and its metabolites in rat brain after intermittent or continuous peripheral administration of [2′-14C]nicotine

Omar A. Ghosheh, Linda P. Dwoskin, Dennis K. Miller, Peter A. Crooks

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97 Scopus citations


Concentrations of nicotine, cotinine, and nornicotine in brain and blood following both intermittent and continuous administration of [2′-14C]nicotine to rats were determined to assess nicotine metabolite accumulation in brain following repeated nicotine administration. For intermittent studies, rats were administered s.c. 1 to 10 doses of nicotine (0.3 mg/kg, 15 or 25 μCi of [2′-14C]nicotine; 30-min interinjection interval). For continuous administration studies, rats were implanted s.c. with an osmotic minipump delivering nicotine (0.8 mg/kg/day, 25 or 50 μCi of [2′-14C]nicotine for 1-21 days). Whole brain and trunk blood was collected. The concentration of [2′-14C]nicotine and its metabolites was determined via high-pressure liquid radiochromatography. Brain concentrations of nicotine, cotinine, and nornicotine increased 2-, 12-, and 9-fold, respectively, following 10 injections, reaching a plateau following the fifth injection. Brain blood ratios indicate an enhanced preferential distribution of nornicotine to brain with increasing numbers of injections. Across the 21-day period of continuous infusion, blood nicotine and nornicotine concentrations remained relatively constant, whereas concentrations in brain increased ∼4-fold. Generally, cotinine concentrations in brain and blood did not change across the infusion period. Brain/blood ratios indicate an increase in nicotine distribution into brain across days of nicotine infusion. Results demonstrate that both nicotine and its metabolites accumulate in brain following repeated nicotine administration, and indicate that brain nicotine concentration can not be extrapolated from plasma cotinine or nicotine concentrations. Thus, nornicotine accumulation following repeated nicotine administration suggests that this metabolite plays a contributory role in the neuropharmacological effects of nicotine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-651
Number of pages7
JournalDrug Metabolism and Disposition
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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