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J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2007 May 15;851(1-2):51-70. Epub 2006 Sep 6.

Analysis of nitrite and nitrate in biological fluids by assays based on the Griess reaction: appraisal of the Griess reaction in the L-arginine/nitric oxide area of research.

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Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Strasse 1, D-30625 Hannover, Germany.


In the Griess reaction, first reported by Johann Peter Griess in 1879 as a method of analysis of nitrite (NO(2)(-)), nitrite reacts under acidic conditions with sulfanilic acid (HO(3)SC(6)H(4)NH(2)) to form a diazonium cation (HO(3)SC(6)H(4)-N[triple bond]N(+)) which subsequently couples to the aromatic amine 1-naphthylamine (C(10)H(7)NH(2)) to produce a red-violet coloured (lambda(max) approximately 540 nm), water-soluble azo dye (HO(3)SC(6)H(4)-NN-C(10)H(6)NH(2)). The identification of nitrite in saliva has been the first analytical application of this diazotization reaction in 1879. For a century, the Griess reaction has been exclusively used to identify analytically bacterial infection in the urogenital tract, i.e. to identify nitrite produced by bacterial reduction of nitrate (NO(3)(-)), the major nitrogen oxide anion in human urine. Since the discovery of the l-arginine/nitric oxide (l-Arg/NO) pathway in 1987, however, the Griess reaction is the most frequently used analytical approach to quantitate the major metabolites of NO, i.e. nitrite and nitrate, in a variety of biological fluids, notably blood and urine. The Griess reaction is specific for nitrite. Analysis of nitrate by this reaction requires chemical or enzymatic reduction of nitrate to nitrite prior to the diazotization reaction. The simplicity of the Griess reaction and its easy and inexpensive analytical feasibility has attracted the attention of scientists from wide a spectrum of disciplines dedicated to the complex and challenging L-Arg/NO pathway. Today, we know dozens of assays based on the Griess reaction. In principle, every laboratory in this area uses its own Griess assay. The simplest Griess assay is performed in batch commonly as originally reported by Griess. Because of the recognition of numerous interferences in the analysis of nitrite and nitrate in biological fluids and of the desire to analyze these anions simultaneously, the Griess reaction has been repeatedly modified and automated. In recent years, the Griess reaction has been coupled to HPLC, i.e. is used for post-column derivatization of chromatographically separated nitrite and nitrate. Such a HPLC-Griess system is even commercially available. The present article gives an overview of the currently available assays of nitrite and nitrate in biological fluids based on the Griess reaction. Special emphasis is given to human plasma and urine, to quantitative aspects, as well as to particular analytical and pre-analytical factors and problems that may be associated with and affect the quantitative analysis of nitrite and nitrate in these matrices by assays based on the Griess reaction. The significance of the Griess reaction in the L-Arg/NO pathway is appraised.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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