Sodium azide, a bacteriostatic preservative contained in commercially available laboratory reagents, influences the responses of human platelets via the cGMP/PKG/VASP pathway

Isabella Russo, Paola Del Mese, Michela Viretto, Gabriella Doronzo, Luigi Mattiello, Mariella Trovati, Giovanni Anfossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: The bacteriostatic preservative sodium azide (NaN3) activates soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) in vascular tissues, thus elevating cellular 3′,5′-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). Because the sGC/cGMP pathway is involved in the control of platelet aggregation, we investigated whether in human platelets NaN3 influences the responses to agonists, cGMP levels and cGMP-regulated pathways. Design and method: Concentration- and time-dependent effects of NaN3 (1-100 μmol/L; 5-60 min incubation) on ADP- and collagen-induced aggregation, NO synthase (NOS) activity, cGMP synthesis and vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP) phosphorylation at Ser239 were investigated in platelets from 21 healthy individuals. Results: NaN3 exerted concentration- and time-dependent antiaggregatory effects starting from 1 μmol/L (IC50 with 5-min incubation: 2.77 ± 0.35 μmol/L with ADP and 4.64 ± 0.48 μmol/L with collagen) and significantly increased intraplatelet cGMP levels and phosphorylation of VASP at Ser239 at 1-100 μmol/L; these effects were prevented by sGC inhibition, but not by NOS inhibition. Conclusions: NaN3 exerts antiaggregatory effects in human platelets via activation of the sGC/cGMP/VASP pathway. This biological effect must be considered when azide-containing reagents are used for in vitro studies on platelet function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-349
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Biochemistry
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008



  • cGMP-dependent protein kinase
  • Cyclic GMP
  • Nitric oxide
  • Platelet aggregation
  • Platelets
  • Sodium azide
  • Vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry

Cite this