Venous occlusion during blood collection decreases plasma nitrite but not nitrate concentration in humans

Luke Liddle, Mia C Burleigh, Chris Monaghan, David J Muggeridge, Chris Easton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: To maintain vascular tone and blood flow when tissue oxygenation is reduced, nitrite anions are reduced to nitric oxide (NO). From a practical perspective, it is unclear how the application of a tourniquet during blood collection might influence measurement of NO metabolites. Accordingly, this study evaluated the effect of venous occlusion on plasma nitrite and nitrate during venous blood collection.

METHODS: Fifteen healthy participants completed two trials that were preceded by the ingestion of nitrate-rich beetroot juice (BRJ; total of ∼8.4 mmol nitrate) or no supplementation (control). In both trials, blood was collected using a venepuncture needle while a tourniquet was applied to the upper arm and using an indwelling intravenous cannula, from opposing arms. The venepuncture samples were collected at 35 s post occlusion. Changes in the oxygenation of forearm flexor muscles were assessed using near-infrared spectroscopy. Plasma nitrite and nitrate were analysed using gas-phase chemiluminescence.

RESULTS: In the control trial, plasma nitrite was significantly elevated when collected via the cannula (179 ± 67 nM) compared to venepuncture (112 ± 51 nM, P=0.03). The ingestion of BRJ increased plasma nitrite and values remained higher when sampled from the cannula (473 ± 164 nM) compared to venepuncture (387 ± 136 nM, P<0.001). Plasma nitrate did not differ between collection methods in either trial (all P>0.05). The delta changes in total-, deoxy-, and oxy-haemoglobin were all significantly greater during venepuncture sample compared to the cannula sample at the point of blood collection (all P<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Venous occlusion during venepuncture blood collection lowers plasma nitrite concentration, potentially due to localised changes in haemoglobin concentration and/or a suppression of endogenous NO synthesis. Accordingly, the method of blood collection to enable measurements of NO metabolites should be carefully considered and consistently reported by researchers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalNitric Oxide : Biology and Chemistry / Official Journal of the Nitric Oxide Society
Early online date11 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • Beetroot juice
  • Cannula
  • Ischemia
  • Blood flow
  • Nitric oxide


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