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Nicotelline: A Proposed Biomarker and Environmental Tracer for Particulate Matter Derived from Tobacco Smoke

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Particulate matter (PM) derived from tobacco smoke contains numerous toxic substances. Since the PM and gas phase of tobacco smoke may distribute differently in the environment and substances in them may have different human bioavailability, multiple tracers and biomarkers for tobacco smoke constituents are desirable. Nicotelline is a relatively nonvolatile alkaloid present in tobacco smoke, and therefore, it has the potential to be a suitable tracer and biomarker for tobacco smoke-derived PM. We describe experiments demonstrating that nicotelline is present almost entirely in the PM, in both freshly generated cigarette smoke and aged cigarette smoke. An excellent correlation between the mass of nicotelline and the mass of the PM in aged cigarette smoke was found. We also describe experiments suggesting that the main source of nicotelline in tobacco smoke is dehydrogenation of another little-studied tobacco alkaloid, anatalline, during the burning process. We show that nicotelline metabolites can be measured in the urine of smokers and that nicotelline can be measured in house dust from homes of smokers and nonsmokers. We conclude that nicotelline should be useful as a tracer and biomarker for PM derived from tobacco smoke.

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