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Chem Res Toxicol. 1999 Jul;12(7):639-45.

Characterization of multiple products of cytochrome P450 2A6-catalyzed cotinine metabolism.

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Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, University of Minnesota Cancer Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.


The primary metabolite of nicotine in smokers is cotinine. Cotinine is further metabolized to trans-3'-hydroxycotinine, the major urinary metabolite of nicotine in tobacco users. It was recently reported that cytochrome P450 2A6 catalyzes the conversion of cotinine to trans-3'-hydroxycotinine. In this work, we report that P450 2A6 metabolizes cotinine not only to trans-3'-hydroxycotinine but also to 5'-hydroxycotinine, norcotinine, and a fourth as yet unidentified metabolite. The products of baculovirus-expressed P450 2A6 [methyl-(3)H]cotinine metabolism were analyzed by radioflow HPLC. Three (3)H-labeled metabolites were detected and were present in approximately equal amounts. The identities of two of the metabolites were confirmed to be 5'-hydroxycotinine and trans-3'-hydroxycotinine by LC/MS/MS and LC/MS analysis and comparison to standards. The third product was not identified. A fourth product of P450 2A6-catalyzed cotinine metabolism was detected by LC/MS. It was identified by cochromatography with a standard and MS and MS/MS data to be norcotinine. An attempt was made to further characterize the unidentified (3)H-labeled metabolite by comparison to the cotinine metabolites generated by hamster liver microsomes. Hamster liver microsomes contain a P450, 2A8, which is closely related to P450 2A6, and have previously been shown to metabolize cotinine to three hydroxylated products, trans-3'-hydroxycotinine, 5'-hydroxycotinine, and N-(hydroxymethyl)norcotinine. We were unable to confirm that N-(hydroxymethyl)norcotinine was the unidentified cotinine metabolite generated by P450 2A6.

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