Comparison of brain nicotine uptake from electronic cigarettes and combustible cigarettes.

Conference Paper

Brain accumulation rate and magnitude are critical for the acute reinforcing effects of nicotine. Despite electronic cigarettes' (E-cigs) appeal as substitutes for traditional combustible cigarettes (C-cigs), brain nicotine accumulation (BNA) from E-cigs has not been compared with that from C-cigs using a within-subjects design. BNA was directly assessed with 16 adult dual users (10 females) of E-cigs (e-liquid pH 9.4) and C-cigs, using 11C-nicotine and positron emission tomography (PET). Participants went through two 15-min head scanning sessions during which they inhaled a single puff of E-cig vapor or C-cig smoke containing 11C-nicotine in a randomized order. A full-body scan was also conducted at each session to measure total absorbed dose of 11C-nicotine. Mean maximum concentration (Cmax) and area under curve of BNA were 22.1% and 22.7% lower, respectively, following E-cig compared with C-cig inhalation. Meanwhile, T1/2 was 2.7 times longer following inhalation of E-cig vapor relative to C-cig smoke (all ps < 0.005). Whole-body imaging indicated greater nicotine retention in the respiratory tract from vapor versus smoke inhalation (p < 0.0001). Following vapor inhalation, nicotine retention in the respiratory tract was correlated with Cmax values of BNA (rs = -0.59, p < 0.02). Our results confirm that E-cigs with alkaline pH e-liquid can deliver nicotine rapidly to the brain, albeit less efficiently than C-cigs partly due to greater airway retention of nicotine. Since brain nicotine uptake mediates reinforcement, these results help elucidate actions of E-cigs in terms of abuse liability and effectiveness in substituting for combustible cigarettes.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Zuo, Y; Mukhin, AG; Berg, H; Morgan, JD; Mintz, A; Rose, JE; Solingapuram Sai, KK

Published Date

  • October 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 47 / 11

Start / End Page

  • 1939 - 1944

PubMed ID

  • 35962133

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9485116

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1740-634X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/s41386-022-01410-5

Conference Location

  • England