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Digestion. 1986;35(4):199-204.

Detectable colonic nitrite levels in inflammatory bowel disease--mucosal or bacterial malfunction?


In the healthy colon, sodium nitrite stimulates mucosal metabolism of short-chain fatty acids and absorption of ions, both functions that are impaired in the mucosa of patients with ulcerative colitis (UC). To assess the role of nitrite in colonic inflammatory disease, sodium nitrite was measured in rectal dialysate of 49 subjects (18 controls, 23 UC and 8 other colitis). None of the control or quiescent UC patients had measurable levels of nitrite while 78% of patients with acute UC and 38% of patients with other colitis had measurable nitrite levels (acute UC vs. other colitis chi 2 = 5.555, p less than 0.02). Functional activity of the colonic mucosa, judged by bicarbonate output, was impaired in all subjects with measurable nitrite levels in UC. Detection of nitrite in acute colitis suggests impaired oxidation of nitrite to nitrate in the colonic mucosa or impaired luminal reduction of nitrite to NH4 by bacteria.

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