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Subject: Nicotine/Cotinine

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  • Nicotine is a hygroscopic alkaloid obtained from tobacco. Cotinine is the major metabolite of nicotine.

  • Normal range (serum): Cotinine

    • Nonsmokers: <6 ng/mL

    • Cigarette smokers: 10–50 ng/mL


  • Insecticide and fumigant

  • Constituent of tobacco products

  • Constituent of smoking cessation products


  • Serum cotinine concentrations may be up to 10 times greater than corresponding nicotine level in smokers.

  • Urine nicotine and cotinine concentrations in smokers are typically >1,000 ng/mL.


  • Screening tests are immunoassay based typically target cotinine with a cutoff concentration of 100–500 ng/mL (for urine). Test may cross-react with 3-hydroxy cotinine.