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Food Chem Toxicol. 1986 Jan;24(1):17-22.

Nitrate reduction, gastro-intestinal pH and N-nitrosation in gnotobiotic and conventional rats.


The reduction of nitrate in germ-free, gnotobiotic and conventional rats was investigated using blood methaemoglobin values as indicative of nitrite formation. Nitrate reduction was found to occur in the absence of a microbial flora, and throughout the experiment the blood content of methaemoglobin was higher in germ-free than in conventional rats. In vitro incubations of the gastric and small-intestinal mucosae of germ-free rats confirmed the presence of a heat-labile nitrate-reducing system. Measurement of the gastro-intestinal pH of germ-free and conventional rats revealed a generally higher pH value throughout the germ-free gastro-intestinal tract, with highly significant differences in the luminal pH of the forestomach, jejunum/ileum and caecum and a significant difference in the pH of the glandular stomach. Although some formation of N-nitrosoproline from proline and nitrate occurred in germ-free and gnotobiotic rats, nitrosation proceeded more readily in conventional rats. This effect may have been due to the lower gastric pH in the conventional rats although a more direct role for the flora cannot be discounted.

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