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Carcinogenesis. 1991 Aug;12(8):1371-6.

Studies in gastric carcinogenesis. V. The effects of ascorbic acid on N-nitroso compound formation in human gastric juice in vivo and in vitro.

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  • 1Institute of Biological Research and Biotechnology, National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens, Greece.


The concentrations of nitrite, thermo- and acetic acid-labile TEA-responsive compounds (TACs) and N-nitroso compounds (NOCs) as a group were measured in human gastric juice collected just before and 1, 2 and 4 h after oral ingestion of 1 g ascorbic acid (AA) or 200 mg sodium nitrate, separately or in combination. Individual responses of gastric [nitrite] following ingestion of AA alone varied widely, with both decreases and increases being observed, and showed no correlation with gastric pH. While a mixed response was also noted for [NOC] and [TAC], substantial decreases were observed in 5/6 individuals with initial [NOC] greater than 0.2 microM and 3/3 individuals with initial [TAC] greater than 0.2 microM, implying that (i) AA effectively inhibited gastric nitrosation and (ii) a basal amount of NOCs and TACs was present in gastric juice which could not be lowered by AA ingestion. Statistical analysis indicated that global mean values of gastric [NOC] were significantly reduced (P less than 0.02) 1-4 h after ingestion of AA. Ingestion of 200 mg sodium nitrate alone resulted in increases in gastric [NOC], which in some cases were very substantial. While nitrosation appeared lower following ingestion of the same dose of nitrate in combination with 1 g AA, the difference from the effects of nitrate alone was not statistically significant. In aqueous buffer, pH 2.5, and in the presence of 1 mM AA, 50 microM nitrite was consumed with a t1/2 of 50 min only if molecular oxygen had first been removed from the system. In the presence of oxygen, no consumption of nitrite could be detected in 50 min, reflecting nitrite recycling (oxidation of nitric oxide to higher oxides of nitrogen and hydrolysis back to nitrite). It is likely that nitrite recycling occurring after collection of gastric juice accounted for the inconsistent responses of gastric nitrite following ingestion of AA. Incubation of human gastric juice, pH 2.5, in vitro in the presence of 50 microM sodium nitrite for 60 min resulted in an increase of [NOC] and [TAC] from 0.10 to 0.70 and 1.10 microM respectively. Nitrosation was efficiently inhibited by AA, 2.27 mM AA resulting in 87 and 100% inhibition respectively. Removal of oxygen from the reaction mixture did not have any significant effect on the extent of nitrosation in the presence or absence of AA.

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