In samples from controlled randomized clinical trials, a smoker’s rate of nicotine metabolism, measured by the 3-hydroxycotinine to cotinine ratio (NMR), predicts response to transdermal nicotine. Replication of this relationship in community-based samples of treatment-seeking smokers may help guide the implementation of the NMR for personalized treatment for nicotine dependence.
Data from a community-based sample of treatment seeking smokers (N = 499) who received 8 weeks of transdermal nicotine and 4 behavioral counseling sessions were used to evaluate associations between the NMR and smoking cessation. Secondary outcomes included withdrawal and craving, depression and anxiety, side effects, and treatment adherence.
The NMR was a significant predictor of abstinence (OR = .56, 95% CI: 0.33-0.95, p = .03), with faster metabolizers showing lower quit rates than slower metabolizers (24% vs. 33%). Faster nicotine metabolizers exhibited significantly higher levels of anxiety symptoms over time during treatment, vs. slower metabolizers (NMR x Time interaction: F[3,357] = 3.29, p = .02). NMR was not associated with changes in withdrawal, craving, depression, side effects, and treatment adherence (p’s > .05).
In a community-based sample of treatment-seeking smokers, faster nicotine metabolizers were significantly less likely to quit smoking and showed higher rates of anxiety symptoms during a smoking cessation treatment program, vs. slower nicotine metabolizers. These results provide further evidence that transdermal nicotine is less effective for faster nicotine metabolizers and suggest the need to address cessation-induced anxiety symptoms among these smokers to increase the chances for successful smoking cessation.