Nicotine metabolite ratio (3-Hydroxycotinine/Cotinine) in plasma and urine by different analytical methods and laboratories: Implications for clinical implementation

Julie Anne Tanner, Maria Novalen, Peter Jatlow, Marilyn A. Huestis, Sharon E. Murphy, Jaakko Kaprio, Aino Kankaanpää, Laurence Galanti, Cristiana Stefan, Tony P. George, Neal L. Benowitz, Caryn Lerman, Rachel F. Tyndale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background: The highly genetically variable enzyme CYP2A6 metabolizes nicotine to cotinine (COT) and COT to trans-30- hydroxycotinine (3HC). The nicotine metabolite ratio (NMR, 3HC/COT) is commonly used as a biomarker of CYP2A6 enzymatic activity, rate of nicotine metabolism, and total nicotine clearance; NMR is associated with numerous smoking phenotypes, including smoking cessation. Our objective was to investigate the impact of different measurement methods, at different sites, on plasma and urinary NMR measures from ad libitum smokers. Methods: Plasma (n = 35) and urine (n = 35) samples were sent to eight different laboratories, which used similar and different methods of COT and 3HC measurements to derive the NMR. We used Bland-Altman analysis to assess agreement, and Pearson correlations to evaluate associations, between NMR measured by different methods. Results: Measures of plasma NMR were in strong agreement between methods according to Bland-Altman analysis (ratios, 0.82-1.16) and were highly correlated (all Pearson r > 0.96, P < 0.0001). Measures of urinary NMR were in relatively weaker agreement (ratios 0.62-1.71) and less strongly correlated (Pearson r values of 0.66-0.98, P < 0.0001) between different methods. Plasma and urinary COT and 3HC concentrations, while weaker than NMR, also showed good agreement in plasma, which was better than that in urine, as was observed for NMR. Conclusions: Plasma is a very reliable biologic source for the determination of NMR, robust to differences in these analytical protocols or assessment site. Impact: Together this indicates a reduced need for differential interpretation of plasmaNMRresults based on the approach used, allowing for direct comparison of different studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1239-1246
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

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