AIMS: To measure circulating concentrations of nitrite in patients with HIV-1 infection. METHODS: Nitrite concentrations were measured using the Griess reaction adapted to microtitre plates in the serum of 10 asymptomatic HIV-1 positive patients, 33 patients with AIDS with cerebral disorders, 17 patients with AIDS with pulmonary involvement, and in eight patients with AIDS with other disorders. Nitrite concentrations were also measured in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with AIDS with pulmonary involvement and cerebral disorders, respectively. RESULTS: Increased serum concentrations of nitrite were observed in patients with pulmonary involvement, and in particular in serum and in BAL samples of patients with interstitial pneumonia (36.2 (26.2) mumol/l and 0.3 (0.4) mumol/l, respectively). Increased serum concentrations of nitrite were also noted in patients with retinitis caused by infection with cytomegalovirus. Serum nitrite concentrations were also raised in patients with cerebral toxoplasmosis, whereas normal serum concentrations were found in patients with HIV-1 encephalopathy and cryptococcal meningitis. Nitrite concentrations in CSF were not raised in patients with cerebral disorders. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that production of nitrite in patients with AIDS with concomitant opportunistic infections may be part of the host defense against opportunistic organisms.
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