Nitrite from inflammatory cells--a cancer risk factor in ulcerative colitis?

Dis Colon Rectum. 1990 Dec;33(12):1034-6. doi: 10.1007/BF02139219.


Elevated levels of luminal nitrite and a lowered luminal pH were found in 77 percent of patients with acute ulcerative colitis. No luminal nitrite was found in healthy control subjects. Nitrites are a secretory product of activated macrophages and neutrophils of the lamina propria, whereas the lowered luminal pH is due to diminished bicarbonate formation by impaired colonocytes. A hypothesis is put forward that nitrites, lowered pH, and bacterial amines are conducive to formation of carcinogenic n-nitroso compounds, which reflect a cancer risk in patients with ulcerative colitis dependent on the type and extent of inflammatory cell activation as well as metabolic impairment of colonic epithelial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / metabolism*
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Nitrites / metabolism*
  • Nitrosamines / metabolism
  • Risk Factors


  • Nitrites
  • Nitrosamines