GC-MS Analysis of Biological Nitrate and Nitrite Using Pentafluorobenzyl Bromide in Aqueous Acetone: A Dual Role of Carbonate/Bicarbonate as an Enhancer and Inhibitor of Derivatization.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbonates, which are widely distributed in nature, are constituents of inorganic and organic matter and are essential in vegetable and animal organisms. CO2 is the principal greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. In human blood, CO2/HCO3- is an important buffering system. Inorganic nitrate (ONO2-) and nitrite (ONO-) are major metabolites and abundant reservoirs of nitric oxide (NO), an endogenous multifunctional signaling molecule. Carbonic anhydrase (CA) is involved in the reabsorption of nitrite and nitrate from the primary urine. The measurement of nitrate and nitrite in biological samples is of particular importance. The derivatization of nitrate and nitrite in biological samples alongside their 15N-labeled analogs, which serve as internal standards, is a prerequisite for their analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). A suitable derivatization reagent is pentafluorobenzyl bromide (PFB-Br). Nitrate and nitrite are converted in aqueous acetone to PFB-ONO2 and PFB-NO2, respectively. PFB-Br is also useful for the GC-MS analysis of carbonate/bicarbonate. This is of particular importance in conditions of pharmacological CA inhibition, for instance by acetazolamide, which is accompanied by elevated concomitant excretion of nitrate, nitrite and bicarbonate, as well as by urine alkalization. We performed a series of experiments with exogenous bicarbonate (NaHCO3) added to human urine samples (range, 0 to 100 mM), as well as with endogenous bicarbonate resulting from the inhibition of CA activity in healthy subjects before and after ingestion of pharmacological acetazolamide. Our results indicate that bicarbonate enhances the derivatization of nitrate with PFB-Br. In contrast, bicarbonate decreases the derivatization of nitrite with PFB-Br. Bicarbonate is not a catalyst, but it enhances PFB-ONO2 formation and inhibits PFB-NO2 formation in a concentration-dependent manner. The effects of bicarbonate are likely to result from its reaction with PFB-Br to generate PFB-OCOOH. Nitrate reacts with concomitantly produced PFB-OCOOH to form PFB-ONO2 in addition to the direct reaction of nitrate with PFB-Br. By contrast, nitrite does not react with PFB-OCOOH to form PFB-NO2. Sample acidification by small volumes of 20 wt.% aqueous acetic acid abolishes the effects of exogenous and endogenous bicarbonate on nitrite measurement.


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