Nitrate and nitrite concentrations in human saliva for men and women at different ages and times of the day and their consistency over time

S. S. Mirvish, K. J. Reimers, B. Kutler, S. C. Chen, J. Haorah, C. R. Morris, A. C. Grandjean, E. R. Lyden

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27 Scopus citations


Salivary nitrite arises from nitrate and is the main source of gastric nitrite, a precursor of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds. We examined nitrate and nitrite levels in unstimulated saliva from subjects consuming low-nitrate low-vitamin C diets. When saliva was collected from six men at nine times of the day (Experiment 1), night time nitrite levels were significantly higher than day time values and nitrite varied more than nitrate. When saliva was collected from 29 subjects aged 19-37 or 60-84 years at four times of the day during 1991-1993 (Experiment 2), all older subjects and older men had significantly higher nitrite levels than the corresponding younger subjects, night time nitrite levels in men were significantly raised, and nitrate and nitrite levels in the same samples were closely correlated. Saliva was collected at 6.00 a.m. on two successive days in 1997 from 16 subjects who had collected saliva in 1991-1993 (Experiment 3). Nitrate and nitrite levels on day 1 of experiment 3 were closely correlated with those on day 2. Nitrate and nitrite levels on days 1 and 2 of Experiment 3 were correlated with the corresponding parameters in Experiment 2 with P = 0.04 and 0.08 for day 1, and 0.10 and 0.28 for day 2, respectively. Hence, saliva nitrite levels rose at night and were higher in older people, especially older men, and saliva nitrate and nitrite levels varied little from day to day, but varied more after 4-6 years. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-342
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Prevention
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 11 2000
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Epidemiology


  • Ageing
  • Diurnal variation
  • Salivary nitrate
  • Salivary nitrite

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