Methods to detect nitric oxide and its metabolites in biological samples

Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 Sep 1;43(5):645-57. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2007.04.026. Epub 2007 Apr 29.


Nitric oxide (NO) methodology is a complex and often confusing science and the focus of many debates and discussion concerning NO biochemistry. NO is involved in many physiological processes including regulation of blood pressure, immune response, and neural communication. Therefore its accurate detection and quantification are critical to understanding health and disease. Due to the extremely short physiological half-life of this gaseous free radical, alternative strategies for the detection of reaction products of NO biochemistry have been developed. The quantification of NO metabolites in biological samples provides valuable information with regard to in vivo NO production, bioavailability, and metabolism. Simply sampling a single compartment such as blood or plasma may not always provide an accurate assessment of whole body NO status, particularly in tissues. Therefore, extrapolation of plasma or blood NO status to specific tissues of interest is no longer a valid approach. As a result, methods continue to be developed and validated which allow the detection and quantification of NO and NO-related products/metabolites in multiple compartments of experimental animals in vivo. The methods described in this review is not an exhaustive or comprehensive discussion of all methods available for the detection of NO but rather a description of the most commonly used and practical methods which allow accurate and sensitive quantification of NO products/metabolites in multiple biological matrices under normal physiological conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fluorometry
  • Humans
  • Nitrates / chemistry
  • Nitrates / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide / chemistry
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitrites / chemistry
  • Nitrites / metabolism
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / chemistry
  • Tyrosine / chemistry


  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Tyrosine