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J Immunol. 1990 Oct 1;145(7):2220-6.

Alloantigen-induced activation of rat splenocytes is regulated by the oxidative metabolism of L-arginine.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, PA 15261.


Activated macrophages have been demonstrated to metabolize the amino acid L-arginine by the oxidative pathway to produce nitric oxide, citrulline, and NO2-/NO3-. Nitric oxide has been shown to be cytostatic for tumor targets and to inhibit the mitochondrial respiration and other functions of the macrophages that produce it. Addition of NG monomethyl-L-arginine (NMA), a competitive inhibitor of oxidative L-arginine metabolism, to rat splenocyte (SPL) MLC results in allospecific lymphocyte proliferation and CTL induction. In the absence of NMA, neither proliferation nor CTL induction is observed. Citrulline and NO2-/NO3- levels in the supernatants of rat SPL MLC are decreased in the presence of NMA compared with cultures without NMA. NMA also augments the proliferation and CTL induction in mouse SPL MLC. Detectable levels of cytokines able to induce T cell proliferation were present in supernatants of rat SPL MLC without NMA on days 1 to 5 of culture. Supernatants of cultures with NMA contained detectable levels of cytokines on days 1 to 3 and undetectable levels by days 4 and 5 of culture, concomitant with the observed lymphocyte proliferation and presumed depletion of cytokines. Thus, inhibition of rat SPL proliferation to alloantigen seems not to be caused by the lack of production of cytokines able to induce T cell proliferation. The inhibition of proliferation and CTL induction in rat SPL cultures may be caused by a direct effect of the cytostatic products of oxidative L-arginine metabolism on lymphocyte proliferation, or by an indirect deleterious effect on the mitochondrial respiration and viability of macrophages that oxidatively metabolize L-arginine. Alternatively, diversion of L-arginine to the oxidative pathway may affect production of polyamines that are necessary for cell growth and proliferation.

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