Nitrite and nitrate determinations in plasma: A critical evaluation

H. Moshage*, B. Kok, J. R. Huizenga, P. L. Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Plasma nitrite and nitrate determinations are increasingly being used in clinical chemistry as markers for the activity of nitric oxide synthase and the production of nitric oxide radicals. However, a systematic evaluation of the determination of nitrite and nitrate in plasma has not been performed. In this study the recovery and stability of nitrite and nitrate in whole blood and in plasma, the relation between nitrite and nitrate concentrations in plasma, and possible sources of artifacts were investigated. The main conclusions are: (a) Recovery of nitrite and nitrate from plasma is near-quantitative (87%) and reproducible; (b) nitrite and nitrate are stable in (frozen) plasma for at least 1 year; (c) nitrite in whole blood is very rapidly (>95% in 1 h) oxidized to nitrate, and therefore plasma nitrite determination alone is meaningless; (d) the ranges of nitrite and nitrate concentrations in plasma samples of 26 healthy persons are 1.3-13 mu mol/L (mean 4.2 mu mol/L) and 4.0-45.3 mu mol/L (mean 19.7 mu mol/L), respectively; (e) plasma nitrite and nitrate concentrations were not correlated (nitrite as % of total nitrite + nitrate varied from 3.9% to 88% in plasma samples); and (f) plasma samples should be deproteinized, and background controls for each sample should be included in the assay, to avoid measuring artifactually high nitrite and nitrate concentrations in plasma.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)892-896
    Number of pages5
    JournalClinical Chemistry
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Jun-1995


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