Urinary metabolites of tobacco smoke toxins are often used as biomarkers for the evaluation of active and passive exposure to cigarette smoke toxins. In a study of healthy smokers, we investigated concentrations of urinary biomarkers in relation to concentrations of selected toxins in mainstream cigarette smoke as determined by machine smoking of cigarettes in a manner that mimics an individual's smoking behavior (topography). Concentrations of nicotine, 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone, and benzo(a)pyrene, in mainstream smoke determined under human smoking conditions, and their urinary metabolites cotinine, 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol, and 1-hydroxypyrene were established for 257 individuals who smoked low-yield (0.1-0.8 mg Federal Trade Commission nicotine/cigarette; mean, 0.66; n = 87), medium-yield (0.9-1.2 mg nicotine/cigarette; mean, 1.1; n = 109), and high-yield cigarettes (nicotine, >1.3 mg nicotine/cigarette; mean, 1.41; n = 61). Levels of urinary metabolites expressed per unit of delivered parent compounds decreased with increased smoke emissions. In smokers of low-, medium-, and high-yield cigarettes, the respective cotinine (ng/mg creatinine)-to-nicotine (mg/d) ratios were 89.4, 77.8, and 57.1 (low versus high; P = 0.06); the 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (pmol/mg creatinine)-to-4- (methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (ng/d) ratios were 0.81, 0.55, and 0.57 (low versus high; P = 0.05); and the 1-hydroxypyrene (pg/mg creatinine)-to-benzo(a)pyrene (ng/d) ratios were 1.55, 1.13, and 0.97 (low versus high; P = 0.008). Similarly, means of cotinine per unit of delivered nicotine in smokers who consumed <20 cigarettes per day was 3.5-fold higher than in those who smoked >20 cigarettes per day. Likewise, a negative correlation was observed between cotinine-to-nicotine ratios and delivered doses of nicotine in subgroups of smokers who used the identical brand of cigarette, namely a filter tip-vented Marlboro (r = -0.59), which is a popular brand among Euro-Americans, and Newport (r = -0.37), a menthol-flavored cigarette without filter tip vents that is preferred by African-Americans. Thus, the intensity of the exposures significantly affects the levels of urinary biomarkers of exposure and should be taken into account in the evaluation of human exposure to cigarette smoke toxins.
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