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Evaluation of methods for the extraction of nitrite and nitrate in biological fluids employing high-performance anion-exchange liquid chromatography for their determination.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Gower Street Campus, The Middlesex Hospital, Mortimer Street, London W1N 8AA, UK.


Measurements of nitrite (NO(2)(-)) and nitrate (NO(3)(-)) in biological fluids are proposed as indices of cellular nitric oxide (NO) production. Determination of NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) in standard solutions is not difficult, however, determinations which reflect accurately cellular NO synthesis represent a considerable analytical challenge. Problems are often encountered arising from background NO(2)(-)/NO(3)(-) contamination in experimental solutions and laboratory hardware, and with methods for sample extraction. We investigated potential procedures for the extraction and determination of NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) in biological samples. Consequently, a protocol was devised which yielded acceptable results regarding extraction efficiency, assay reproducibility, sample throughput and contaminant minimisation. It entailed rigorous washing of all equipment with water of low NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) content, sample deproteinisation by centrifugal ultrafiltration through a 3K filter and analysis by high-performance anion-exchange liquid chromatography with UV detection. Retention times for NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) in standards and plasma were 4.4 and 5.6 min, respectively. Assay linearity for standards ranged between 31 nM and 1 mM. The limit of detection for NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) in standards was 3 pmol. Recoveries of NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) from spiked plasma (1-100 microM KNO(2)/KNO(3)) and from extracted standards (1-250 microM) were approximately 100%. Intra-assay and inter-assay RSDs for NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) in spiked and unspiked plasma were 10.6% or less. Assays on washed platelet supernatants demonstrated collagen-induced platelet generation of NO products and analysis of murine and rat cardiac perfusates was achieved. Our procedure may be suitable for routine determination of NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-) in various biological fluids, e.g., plasma.

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