Cotinine is used as a biomarker to determine whether an individual has been exposed to nicotine or tobacco products. It is detectable in bodily fluids, including urine, blood, and saliva.
Cotinine is a chemical compound that is derived from nicotine, which is a natural alkaloid found in the tobacco plant (Nicotiana tabacum). Cotinine is formed when the body metabolizes nicotine, and it serves as a biomarker for tobacco exposure. It is used as a reliable indicator of a person's recent or past tobacco use.
When a person consumes nicotine through smoking, chewing, or other means, the body metabolizes nicotine into several byproducts, with cotinine being one of the major metabolites. Cotinine has a longer half-life in the body compared to nicotine, making it a more stable and accurate indicator of tobacco exposure.
It can be used for various purposes, including assessing smoking habits, evaluating the effectiveness of smoking cessation programs, and identifying tobacco use in individuals who may not disclose their smoking status.
Cotinine testing is also used to determine exposure to secondhand smoke (passive smoking). People who are exposed to tobacco smoke, even if they do not smoke themselves, can have detectable levels of cotinine in their bodily fluids.
Individuals who are using nicotine replacement products like nicotine gum, patches, or lozenges will also have cotinine in their system, as these products contain nicotine.
The time it takes for cotinine to be eliminated from the body can vary depending on factors like individual metabolism and the amount of nicotine exposure. In general, cotinine can be detected in bodily fluids for several days to weeks after nicotine exposure.