What is Cotinine?
Cotinine is a metabolite of nicotine. Cotinine levels in the blood, urine, or saliva can be traced to nicotine exposure. Nicotine is a chemical that is present in tobacco. Nicotine is both a stimulant and a sedative.
Studies have shown that in small does, nicotine will give a “kick” resulting in the release of adrenaline – like a stimulant. In larger doses, studies have shown nicotine causing the opposite effect. By causing the release of dopamine, nicotine can cause a sedative effect as well.
Why Use a Cotinine Test/Urine Cotinine Test?
Despite the risks associated with nicotine use, it is not considered a controlled substance by the FDA and is easy to acquire.
Employers and institutions still are within their right to test individuals for Cotinine and may include a cotinine test when they initiate their drug screening procedures.
Some places of employment may simply wish to assess the tobacco use within their workforce or may want to enforce a no-smoking policy in their company.
Cotinine Test Strips
Cotinine Test Strips Procedure:
- Remove the the Cotinine test strip from its sealed pouch, or remove from the canister, and use it as soon as possible. For the best results, the test should be performed within an hour. The canister should be closed tightly after removing any strips.
- Hold the Cotinine test strip by the end, where the product name is printed. To avoid contamination, do not touch the strip membrane.
- Holding the strip vertically, dip the test strip in the urine specimen for at least 10-15 seconds. Do not immerse past the maximum line (MAX) on the test strip.
- After the test has finished running, remove the strip from the specimen and place it on a non-absorbent flat surface. Start the timer and wait for the colored band(s) to appear. The result should be read 5 minutes. Do not interpret the result after 10 minutes.
Cotinine is the first-stage metabolite of nicotine, a toxic alkaloid that produces stimulation of the autonomic ganglia and central nervous system when in humans. Nicotine is a drug to which virtually every member of a tobacco-smoking society is exposed whether through direct contact or second-hand inhalation. In addition to tobacco, nicotine is also commercially available as the active ingredient in smoking replacement therapies such as nicotine gum, transdermal patches and nasal sprays.
In a 24-hour urine, approximately 5% of a nicotine dose is excreted as unchanged drug with 10% as cotinine and 35% as hydroxycotinine; the concentrations of other metabolites are believed to account for less than 5%. While cotinine is thought to be an inactive metabolite, it’s elimination profile is more stable than that of nicotine which is largely urine pH dependent. As a result, cotinine is considered a good biological marker for determining nicotine use. The plasma half-life of nicotine is approximately 60 minutes following inhalation or parenteral administration. Nicotine and cotinine are rapidly eliminated by the kidney; the window of detection for cotinine in urine at a cutoff level of 200 ng/mL is expected to be up to 2-3 days after nicotine use.
- Internal procedural controls are included in the test. A colored band appearing in the control region(C) is considered an internal positive procedural control, confirming sufficient specimen volume and correct procedural technique.
- External controls are not supplied with this kit. It is recommended that positive and negative controls be tested as a good laboratory practice to confirm the Cotinine test procedure to verify proper test performance.