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Comparison of brain nicotine uptake from electronic cigarettes and combustible cigarettes

Brain accumulation rate and magnitude are critical for the acute reinforcing effects of nicotine. Despite electronic cigarettes’ (E-cigs) appeal as substitutes for traditional combustible cigarettes (C-cigs), brain nicotine accumulation (BNA) from E-cigs has not been compared with that from C-cigs using a within-subjects design. BNA was directly assessed with 16 adult dual users (10 females) of E-cigs (e-liquid pH 9.4) and C-cigs, using 11C-nicotine and positron emission tomography (PET). Our results confirm that E-cigs with alkaline pH e-liquid can deliver nicotine rapidly to the brain, albeit less efficiently than C-cigs partly due to greater airway retention of nicotine.

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