Quantitation of urinary metabolites of a tobacco-specific lung carcinogen after smoking cessation

Stephen S Hecht, Steven G Carmella, Menglan Chen, J. F. Dor Koch, Andrew T. Miller, Sharon E Murphy, Joni A. Jensen, Cheryl L. Zimmerman, Dorothy K Hatsukami

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231 Scopus citations


We quantified urinary levels of two metabolites of the tobacco-specific lung carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) in people who had stopped smoking: 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)1-butanol (NNAL) and its O-glucuronide, 4-[(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)but-1-yl]- β-O-D-glucosiduronic acid (NNAL-Gluc). Twenty-seven people completed the study. Thirteen used the nicotine patch starting at the quit date, whereas the others used no patch. Two 24-h urine samples were collected on 2 consecutive days before smoking cessation; blood was also obtained. Beginning at their quit date, subjects provided 24-h urine samples on days 7, 21, 42, 70, 98, and 126, and some subjects also provided samples at later times. The urine was analyzed for NNAL, NNAL-Gluc, nicotine plus nicotine-N-glucuronide, and cotinine plus cotinine-N-glucuronide. Some blood samples were also analyzed for NNAL. The decline of urinary NNAL and NNAL-Gluc after smoking cessation was much slower than expected. This was clearly demonstrated by comparison with cotinine and nicotine levels in urine. One week after smoking cessation, 34.5% of baseline NNAL plus NNAL-Gluc was detected in urine, whereas the corresponding values for cotinine and nicotine were 1.1 and 0.5%, respectively. Even 6 weeks after cessation, 7.6% of the original levels of NNAL plus NNAL-Gluc remained. In some subjects, NNAL plus NNAL-Gluc were detected 281 days after cessation. The distribution half-life for NNAL and NNAL-Gluc was 3-4 days, whereas the elimination half-life was 40-43 days. Total body clearance of NNAL was estimated to be 61.4 ± 35.4 ml/min, and volume of distribution in the β-phase was estimated to be 3800 ± 2100 liters, indicating substantial distribution into the tissues. Parallel studies in rats treated chronically or acutely with NNK in the drinking water support the conclusion that NNAL has a large volume of distribution. There was no effect of the nicotine patch on levels of NNAL plus NNAL-Gluc, indicating that NNK is not formed endogenously from nicotine. The results of this study demonstrate that NNAL and NNAL-Gluc are slowly cleared from the body after smoking cessation, indicating the presence of a high-affinity compartment where NNK, NNAL, and/or NNAL-Gluc are retained or sequestered and slowly released.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-596
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 1999


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