Tobacco Biomarker Core


  1. Neal Benowitz, MD
  2. Gideon St Helen, PhD
Research Fields: 
Regulatory Science

This Core serves two functions: (1) to provide a service to TCORS investigators by carrying out the analysis of biofluid samples for their studies and (2) to develop new biomarkers of exposure that can be applied to the studies carried out by TCORS investigators, as well as to advance the field. Assessing exposure to toxic substances is an important aspect of our TCORS studies.  There is a need for improved exposure assessment measures to guide tobacco product regulation, for example new products with claims of reduced exposure to toxic substances.  In risk assessment studies, a biomarker for distinguishing cigarette use from smokeless tobacco use and for assessing the extent of dual use of these products would be desirable.  Development of such a biomarker is a goal of our studies. We will achieve our goals through three Specific Aims:

  • Aim 1: Provide analytical chemistry support for studies carried out by TCORS investigators.
  • Aim 2: Develop novel biomarkers of tobacco exposure, including development of the tobacco alkaloid nicotelline, and a structurally-related alkaloid anatalline as biomarkers of particulate phase exposure and to distinguish smokeless tobacco from cigarette use.
  • Aim 3: Measure concentrations of anatalline and nicotelline in tobacco products (including smokeless products and cigarette smoke) and link observed values in people to use of specific kinds of products.

In addition to aiding the development of the biomarker to distinguish smokeless tobacco use from cigarette use, chemical analysis of smokeless products and cigarette smoke may result in the identification of substances in tobacco and tobacco smoke that lead to toxic substance exposure in humans, and which might be targets for regulation or the development of reduced risk products.