Influence of nicotine on tissue trace element concentrations and tissue antioxidant defense

Michael A. Dubick, Carl L Keen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Both altered trace element metabolism and cigaret smoking have been proposed to be risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Thus, it is important to identify the mechanisms by which cigaret smoke alters trace element metabolism. In the present study, serum trace element concentrations were measured in 19 smokers and 13 nonsmokers. In parallel studies, data from rats treated with 50 mg of nicotine over a 21-d period tested the hypothesis that nicotine induced altered trace element metabolism observed in smokers. Serum Cu and Zn concentrations were significantly higher in smokers than in nonsmokers. Serum nicotine concentrations in rats were comparable to those observed in heavy smokers, but serum trace element concentrations were not significantly altered by nicotine treatment. Tissue trace element concentrations were also not markedly affected by nicotine; however, trace element ratios in liver, kidney, lung, and brain were significantly altered by nicotine treatment. In addition, nicotine-treatment resulted in significantly lower liver glutathione concentrations and higher Cu, Zn superoxide dismutase activity than in controls. These data show that a 50-mg infusion of nicotine over 21 d does not produce in rats the serum trace element abnormalities observed in cigaret smokers. However, nicotine did affect the trace element relationships between tissues as well as components of the free radical defense system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-109
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Trace Element Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1991


  • ascorbic acid
  • copper
  • glutathione
  • nicotine
  • superoxide dismutase
  • Trace elements
  • zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry


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