Radioactive nitrogen-13 from nitrite (NO2-) or nitrate (NO3-) administered intratracheally or intravenously without added carrier to mice or rabbits was distributed evenly throughout most organs and tissues regardless of the entry route or the anion administered. Nitrogen-13 from both anions was distributed uniformly between plasma and blood cells. We found rapid in vivo oxidation of NO2- to NO3- at concentrations of 2 to 3 nanomoles per liter in blood. Over 50 percent oxidation within 10 minutes accounted for the similar nitrogen-13 distributions from both parent ions. The oxidation rates were animal species-dependent. No reduction of 13NO3- to 13NO2- was observed. A mechanistic hypothesis invoking oxidation of 13NO2- by a catalase-hydrogen peroxide complex accounts for the results. These results imply a concentration dependence for the in vivo fate of NO2- or nitrogen dioxide.

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