Arterial nicotine kinetics during cigarette smoking and intravenous nicotine administration: implications for addiction.
An understanding of drug addiction requires knowledge of the effective drug concentrations to which receptors in the nervous system are exposed. It has often been thought that smoking of abused substances such as nicotine or cocaine produces much higher drug concentrations in the arterial blood than those achieved following any other route of administration. However, to date no studies have sampled arterial blood following cigarette smoking with the rapidity necessary to evaluate this hypothesis. We measured arterial plasma nicotine concentrations in samples collected every 5 s from 13 cigarette smokers during cigarette smoking and during administration of nicotine by intravenous injections. Our results show that, for both routes of administration, concentrations of nicotine in arterial blood were more than 10 times lower than expected. Thus, the delivery of nicotine into arterial blood is substantially slower than would be predicted if nicotine were absorbed as rapidly as has generally been assumed. A plausible explanation of these results is that lung uptake of nicotine considerably slows the entry of nicotine into the systemic circulation, as has been shown for other amines. These results have significant implications for theories of addiction to nicotine as well as other drugs such as cocaine that may be subject to binding by lung tissue.
Rose, JE; Behm, FM; Westman, EC; Coleman, RE
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