Analysis of nitrite and nitrate in biological samples using high-performance liquid chromatography Academic Article uri icon


  • Various analytical techniques have been developed to determine nitrite and nitrate, oxidation metabolites of nitric oxide (NO), in biological samples. HPLC is a widely used method to quantify these two anions in plasma, serum, urine, saliva, cerebrospinal fluid, tissue extracts, and fetal fluids, as well as meats and cell culture medium. The detection principles include UV and VIS absorbance, electrochemistry, chemiluminescence, and fluorescence. UV or VIS absorbance and electrochemistry allow simultaneous detection of nitrite and nitrate but are vulnerable to the severe interference from chloride present in biological samples. Chemiluminescence and fluorescence detection improve the assay sensitivity and are unaffected by chloride but cannot be applied to a simultaneous analysis of nitrite and nitrate. The choice of a detection method largely depends on sample type and facility availability. The recently developed fluorometric HPLC method, which involves pre-column derivatization of nitrite with 2,3-diaminonaphthalene (DAN) and the enzymatic conversion of nitrate into nitrite, offers the advantages of easy sample preparation, simple derivatization, stable fluorescent derivatives, rapid analysis, high sensitivity and specificity, lack of interferences, and easy automation for determining nitrite and nitrate in all biological samples including cell culture medium. To ensure accurate analysis, care should be taken in sample collection, processing, and derivatization as well as preparation of reagent solutions and mobile phases, to prevent environmental contamination. HPLC methods provide a useful research tool for studying NO biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology.

author list (cited authors)

  • Jobgen, W. S., Jobgen, S. C., Li, H., Meininger, C. J., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 111
  • 113

publication date

  • August 2006