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Background

Ulcerative colitis is predominantly a disease of non-smokers, and transdermal nicotine is therapeutic but often results in side-effects. Administration of nicotine tartrate as a liquid enema decreases systemic nicotine absorption and may be effective for treatment of active distal ulcerative colitis. Ileocolonic delivery of nicotine tartrate via a delayed release oral capsule would be the preferred route to deliver nicotine to the colon.

Aim

: To determine the bioavailability and pharmacokinetic parameters of delayed-release oral nicotine tartrate capsules (Eudragit S100 coated) at doses of 3 mg and 6 mg nicotine.

Methods

: Twenty healthy human subjects received delayed-release oral nicotine tartrate at one of two doses (each group n = 10): 3 mg and 6 mg nicotine. All subjects also received intravenous nicotine tartrate (at a dose of 15 μg nicotine base/kg) during a separate study period. Serum nicotine concentrations were determined by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. In addition, concentrations of serum cotinine (major nicotine metabolite) were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography in all samples for two subjects (both given 6 mg nicotine). Adverse reactions were determined by questionnaire.

Results

: The mean bioavailabilities of nicotine after ileocolonic nicotine tartrate administration via delayed-release oral capsules at doses 3 mg and 6 mg nicotine were 41% and 42%, respectively. The ratios (after adjusting for nicotine dose) of cotinine area under the curve (AUC) for delayed-release oral nicotine to cotinine AUC for intravenous nicotine were 1.5 and 1.6 for the two subjects undergoing cotinine pharmacokinetics, demonstrating significant first-pass metabolism. Serum nicotine concentrations did not predict adverse reactions.

Conclusions

: Nicotine tartrate delivered to the ileocolon as a delayed-release oral capsule at doses of 3 mg and 6 mg nicotine considerably reduced systemic nicotine bioavailability. This reduction in bioavailability appears to be a result of first-pass hepatic metabolism rather than poor mucosal absorption of nicotine. The therapeutic potential of an ileocolonic delivery formulation of nicotine tartrate, which can potentially limit toxicity by local delivery of high doses of nicotine, should be investigated in patients with ulcerative colitis.