Taurine mitigates nitrite-induced methemoglobin formation
and oxidative damage in human erythrocytes
Fariheen Aisha Ansari
Shaikh Nisar Ali
Received: 28 October 2016 /Accepted: 12 June 2017 /Published online: 28 June 2017
Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017
Abstract Nitrite is present as a noxious contaminant in drink-
ing water and causes oxidative damage in various tissues of
humans and animals. It is a well-known methemoglobin-
forming agent that has been shown to damage blood cells.
The protective effect of taurine, a semi-essential sulfur-con-
taining amino acid, was studied on sodium nitrite (NaNO
induced oxidative damage in human erythrocytes.
Erythrocytes were incubated with NaNO
, in the presence
and absence of taurine, and changes in oxidative stress param-
eters determined. Pretreatment with taurine significantly ame-
-induced oxidative damage to lipids, proteins,
and plasma membrane. It also reduced the NaNO
increase in methemoglobin levels and ROS production.
Taurine improved the antioxidant capacity of cells, restored
the alterations in the activities of various metabolic enzymes,
and prevented morphological changes in erythrocytes. Thus,
taurine can be potentially used as a protective agent against the
damaging effects of nitrite.
AMP Adenosine 5′-monophosphate
ATP Adeno sine 5′-triphosphate
ATPase Adenosine triphosphatase
CUPRAC Cupric reducing antioxidant capacity
DCFH-DA 2,7-Dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate
GSH Reduced glutathione
GSSG Oxidized glutathione
Oxidized and reduced nicotinamide ade-
nine dinucleotide (phosphate)
Na,K-ATPase Sodium potassium ATPase
NO Nitric oxide
PBS Phosphate-buffered saline
SOD Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase
TBARS Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances
There is an ever-increasing wealth of data which enumerates
the important biological roles of nitrite in the human body
(McNally et al. 2016). At physiological concentration range
of 0.45–23 μM, nitrite acts as a potential nitric oxide (NO)
donor which mediates signaling, cellular respiration, and in-
nate immunity (Butler and Feelisch 2008). Sodium nitrite
• Sodium nitrite induces oxidative stress in human erythrocytes.
• Taurine significantly lowered nitrite-induced methemoglobin formation
and ROS production.
• Taurine also protected the lowering of antioxidant defense systems.
• Antioxidant capacity of cells was restored.
• Taurine prevented nitrite-induced alterations in erythrocyte morphology.
Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues
* Riaz Mahmood
Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Life Sciences, Aligarh
Muslim University, Aligarh, U.P. 202002, India
Environ Sci Pollut Res (2017) 24:19086–19097