The aim of the study was to examine genetic, pharmacokinetic and demographic factors that influence sensitivity to nicotine in never smokers. Sixty never smokers, balanced for gender and race (Caucasian, Blacks and Asian), wore 7 mg nicotine skin patches for up to 8 hours. Serial plasma nicotine concentrations and subjective and cardiovascular effects were measured, and genetic variation in the CYP2A6 gene, the primary enzyme responsible for nicotine metabolism, was assessed. Nicotine toxicity requiring patch removal developed in 9 subjects and was strongly associated with rate of rise and peak concentrations of plasma nicotine. Toxicity, subjective and cardiovascular effects of nicotine were associated with the presence of reduced function CYP2A6 alleles, presumably reflecting slow nicotine metabolic inactivation. This study has implications for understanding individual differences in responses to nicotine medications, particularly when the latter are used for treating medical conditions in non-smokers, and possibly in vulnerability to developing nicotine dependence.Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics (2013); accepted article preview online 9 August 2013 doi:10.1038/clpt.2013.159.
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