Transdermal nicotine for mildly to moderately active ulcerative colitis. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

William J. Sandborn, William J. Tremaine, Kenneth P. Offord, George M. Lawson, Bret T. Petersen, Kenneth P. Batts, Ivana T. Croghan, Lowell C. Dale, Darrell R. Schroeder, Richard D. Hurt

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234 Scopus citations


Background: Ulcerative colitis is predominantly a disease of nonsmokers. Transdermal nicotine may help control clinical manifestations of this condition. Objective: To determine the efficacy of transdermal nicotine for controlling clinical disease activity in active ulcerative colitis. Design: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, single-center clinical trial. Setting: Multispecialty group serving as an academic tertiary referral center. Patients: 64 nonsmoking patients with mildly to moderately active ulcerative colitis despite the use of medication. Intervention: Patients were stratified on the basis of smoking history, extent of disease, and concomitant medical therapy. After stratification, patients were randomly assigned to daily treatment with transdermal nicotine (n = 31) at the highest tolerated dose (11 mg for 1 week and then ≤22 mg for 3 weeks) or placebo (n = 33). Measurements: Clinical features were assessed at baseline and 4 weeks by endoscopy, physician assessment, and a patient diary of daily symptoms. Serum concentrations of nicotine were determined by using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, and plasma concentrations of cotinine were measured by using high-performance liquid chromatography. Results: At 4 weeks, 12 of 31 patients (39%) who received nicotine showed clinical improvement compared with 3 of 33 patients (9%) who received placebo (P = 0.007). Four patients receiving nicotine discontinued therapy because of side effects (contact dermatitis [n = 2], nausea [n = 1], and acute pancreatitis [n = 1]). At week 4, the nicotine group had a mean (±SD) trough serum nicotine concentration of 11.3 ± 8.4 ng/mL and a mean trough plasma cotinine concentration of 192 ± 95 ng/mL. Conclusions: Transdermal nicotine administered at the highest tolerated dosage (≤22 mg/d) for 4 weeks is efficacious for controlling clinical manifestations of mildly to moderately active ulcerative colitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-371
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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