Nitrite and ascorbate react to form nitric oxide at pH 5.5. In the initial stages of the reaction, seven intermediates can be identified spectrally and chromatographically; these include two colorless nitroso derivatives which contain 30–60% of the initial nitrite, two nitroso reductant derivatives absorbing at 345 and 412 nm, diketogulonic acid and two further decomposition products. None of the intermediates was paramagnetic; except for diketogulonic acid, all decomposed rapidly during or after isolation. Based on the order of appearance of the ultraviolet and visible absorption bands in the reaction mixtures, the observed characteristics of the intermediates, and the lack of organic radicals, a sequence is proposed for the initial steps in the oxidation of ascorbic acid by nitrous acid.

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Author notes

1Agricultural Research, Science and Education Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19118.