Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 20, pp 19380–19392 | Cite as

Protective effect of carnosine and N-acetylcysteine against sodium nitrite-induced oxidative stress and DNA damage in rat intestine

  • Fariheen Aisha Ansari
  • Aijaz Ahmed Khan
  • Riaz MahmoodEmail author
Research Article


The widespread use of sodium nitrite (NaNO2) as food preservative, rampant use of nitrogenous fertilizers for agricultural practices, and improper disposal of nitrogenous wastes have drastically increased human exposure to high nitrite levels causing various health disorders and death. In the present study, the protective effect of carnosine and N-acetylcysteine (NAC) against NaNO2-induced intestinal toxicity in rats was investigated. Animals were given a single acute oral dose of NaNO2 at 60 mg/kg body weight with or without prior administration of either carnosine at 100 mg/kg body weight/day for 7 days or NAC at 100 mg/kg body weight/day for 5 days. Rats were killed after 24 h, and intestinal preparations were used for the evaluation of biochemical alterations and histological abrasions. Administration of NaNO2 alone decreased the activities of intestinal brush border membrane and metabolic enzymes and significantly weakened the anti-oxidant defense system. DNA damage was also evident as observed by increased DNA-protein crosslinking and fragmentation. However, prior administration of carnosine or NAC significantly ameliorated NaNO2-induced damage in intestinal cells. Histological studies support these biochemical results, showing intestinal damage in NaNO2-treated animals and reduced tissue injury in the combination groups. The intrinsic anti-oxidant properties of carnosine and NAC must have contributed to the observed mitigation of nitrite-induced metabolic alterations and oxidative damage. Based on further validation from clinical trials, carnosine and NAC can potentially be used as chemo-preventive agents against NaNO2 toxicity.


Nitrite Oxidative stress DNA damage Rat intestine N-Acetylcysteine Carnosine 


Funding information

Financial support to the department from DST-FIST and University Grants Commission (SAP-DRS-III) is acknowledged. FAA is the recipient of UGC-CSIR senior research fellowship (NET-SRF).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving animals

All procedures performed in our study involving animals (rats) were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Institutional Ethics Committee of Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh, India (Registration number, 714/GO/Re/S/02/CPCSEA).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fariheen Aisha Ansari
    • 1
  • Aijaz Ahmed Khan
    • 2
  • Riaz Mahmood
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Life SciencesAligarh Muslim UniversityAligarhIndia
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, J. N. Medical CollegeAligarh Muslim UniversityAligarhIndia

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