Nitrate- and nitrite-reducing bacteria in the achlorhydric stomach

J Med Microbiol. 1988 Apr;25(4):253-9. doi: 10.1099/00222615-25-4-253.


The microbial composition of samples of gastric juice from eight achlorhydric patients was determined by aerobic and rigorously anaerobic culture techniques. Bacteria from 16 genera were commonly isolated, but representatives of only three genera, (streptococci, neisseriae and haemophili) were isolated from every patient. Nitrate and nitrite were both reduced by veillonellae, haemophili, staphylococci, corynebacteria, lactobacilli, flavobacteria and fusobacteria, but the potential rate of nitrate reduction by suspensions of veillonellae, Haemophilus parainfluenzae and members of the Enterobacteriaceae were up to ten times more rapid than the rate of nitrite reduction. Conversely, although all Neisseria spp. reduced nitrite only some strains reduced nitrate. Streptococci did not reduce nitrate. Streptococcus sanguis reduced nitrite when grown with haematin; other streptococci did not reduce nitrite. Bacterial nitrate and nitrite reduction were active over the pH range 6-8, similar to the pH range of the achlorhydric stomach. From a knowledge of the composition of the bacterial flora and their potential rates of nitrate and nitrite reduction under prevailing conditions, predictions were made about the tendency of nitrite to accumulate during nitrate reduction. Studies of the transient accumulation of nitrite by mixed cultures of H. parainfluenzae and N. subflava were consistent with these predictions. Haemophili and veillonellae could be responsible for the accumulation of nitrite in the gastric juice of some patients, whereas streptococci and neisseriae would tend to remove nitrite from the stomach as rapidly as it formed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achlorhydria / microbiology*
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Gastric Juice / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Nitrates / metabolism*
  • Nitrites / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction


  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites