Letter | Published:

Interaction of Nitrite with Proteins at Gastric pH

Naturevolume 247pages288289 (1974) | Download Citation



THE discovery of volatile N-nitroso compounds1 in certain foodstuffs2 treated with nitrite and/or nitrate has prompted investigation into the conditions likely to give rise to them in food processing and also during digestion. Although other reactions of food components with nitrate and nitrite under physiological conditions are known3, the fate of the total nitrate and nitrite added to foodstuffs as preservatives and that ingested with food has not been established. Our current investigations concern the possibility that interactions of nitrite with certain food components could result in the formation of C-nitroso compounds whose biological behaviour is largely unknown but from the few reports in the literature4–7 are much weaker carcinogens than the corresponding N-nitroso derivatives. The nitrophenols, however, produced by oxidation of the corresponding nitrosophenol, could affect the energy-yielding processes of the cell by uncoupling oxidative phosphorylation6.

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    Crosby, N. T., Foreman, J. K., Palframan, J. F., and Sawyer, R., Nature, 238, 342 (1972).

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    Walters, C. L., Symposium on Meat Curing: Nitrite in Curing, the Fate of Nitrogen (Langford, Bristol, 1972).

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    Grantham, P. H., Weisburger, E. K., and Weisburger, J. H., Biochim. biophys. Acta, 107, 414 (1965).

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    Goodall, C. M., Lijinsky, W., and Smillie, A. C., Proc. Univ. Otago med. Sch., 46, 68 (1968).

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    Boyland, E., Carter, R. L., Gorrod, J. W., and Roe, F. J. C., Eur. J. Cancer, 4, 233 (1968).

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    Venulet, J., and Van Etten, R. L., The Chemistry of the Nitro and Nitroso Groups, Part II (edit. by Feuer, H.), 201 (Wiley Interscience, London, 1969).

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    Sander, J., Arch. Hyg. Bakt., 151, 22 (1967).

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    Philpot, J. L., and Small, P. A., J. Biochem., 32, 542 (1938).

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    Hill, R. L., and Schmidt, W. R., J. biol. Chem., 237, 389 (1962).

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    Cotton, F. A., and Wilkinson, G., Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, 346 (Wiley, London, 1967).

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    Sykes, P., A Guidebook to Mechanism in Organic Chemistry, 99 (Longmans, London, 1962).

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    Philpot, J. L., and Small, P. A., J. Biochem., 32, 534 (1938).

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    Davis, N. R., and Bailey, A. J., J. Biochem., 129, 91 (1972).

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  1. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Food Science Division, Food Research Institute, Colney Lane, Norwich

    • M. E. KNOWLES
    • , D. J. MCWEENY
    • , L. COUCHMAN
    •  & M. THOROGOOD


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