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Circulation. 2002 Mar 12;105(10):1155-7.

Smoking a single cigarette rapidly reduces combined concentrations of nitrate and nitrite and concentrations of antioxidants in plasma.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pathology, Osaka City University Medical School, Abenoku, Osaka, Japan.



Cigarette smoking is a well-known risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease, yet the mechanism of action involved is not completely understood. Because cigarette smoke contains superoxide and other reactive oxygen species, it has been hypothesized that some of the adverse effects of smoking may result from oxidative damage to endothelial cells, which results in nitric oxide (NO) shortage. However, little information is available regarding the acute effects of smoking on plasma concentrations of NO and antioxidants. We measured the changes in the combined plasma concentrations of nitrate and nitrite as an index of NO concentration, as well as changes in concentrations of major serum antioxidants (ascorbic acid, cysteine, methionine, and uric acid) in smokers after smoking a single cigarette.


A randomized crossover study of the effects of smoking a single cigarette was performed in 20 smokers. Smoking a sham cigarette induced no significant changes in all assayed parameters. However, smoking a single cigarette significantly decreased nitrate and nitrite plasma concentrations by 3.5 +/-1.2 and 3.4 +/- 1.1 micromol/L, compared with plasma concentrations at presmoking and sham smoking, respectively. The concentrations of ascorbic acid and other antioxidants were also significantly lower after smoking a single cigarette. These parameters returned to preexperimental levels 60 minutes after smoking cessation.


The present findings indicate that smoking a single cigarette temporarily decreases nitrate, nitrite, and serum antioxidant concentrations in the plasma. These transient changes may partially contribute to coronary vasoconstriction, which is routinely observed after smoking.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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