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Kidney Int. 1999 Jun;55(6):2264-73.

L-Arginine supplementation increases mesangial cell injury and subsequent tissue fibrosis in experimental glomerulonephritis.

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1
Division of Nephrology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Mesangial cell lysis in the antithymocyte serum (ATS)-induced model of glomerulonephritis is dependent on the generation of cytotoxic nitric oxide (NO) through transient induction of NO synthase (iNOS). We hypothesized that increased availability of L-arginine (L-Arg) during mesangial cell lysis might provide iNOS with increased substrate leading to increased lysis, and that this increased lysis would be reflected in more severe fibrotic disease at day 6.

METHODS:

To ensure whole body equilibration with high L-Arg at the time of injury, rats were pretreated with 1% L-Arg in drinking water for one week prior to the administration of ATS. Animals were sacrificed six hours after ATS injection when previous experiments had indicated iNOS induction had occurred and at six days. At six hours, plasma was obtained for L-Arg levels and nitrite/nitrate (NOx) content. Renal tissues were taken for histological evaluation of glomerular cell counts, macrophage infiltration (ED-1), and iNOS expression. Glomeruli were isolated for detection of iNOS mRNA and placed in culture to study the dependence of NO production on L-Arg concentration. In rats sacrificed at six days, L-Arg supplementation was stopped 16 hours after ATS injection. Fibrotic disease was evaluated by urinary protein excretion, histological assessment of glomerular cell number, matrix accumulation, and production of transforming growth factor-beta1 and matrix components fibronectin and plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 (PAI-1) by isolated glomeruli in culture.

RESULTS:

At six hours, the glomerular cell number was significantly reduced by ATS injection (P < 0.01) and further significantly (P < 0. 05) reduced by L-Arg feeding [normal control (NC) = 64.2 +/- 1, ATS = 53.4 +/- 0.7, ATS + L-Arg = 50.8 +/- 0.7]. Disease increased macrophage infiltration and iNOS protein and iNOS mRNA levels markedly (P < 0.01), whereas L-Arg feeding did not further increase these variables. Plasma L-Arg levels (nmol/ml) were reduced by disease (NC = 121 +/- 9, ATS = 84 +/- 13, P < 0.01) and elevated by L-Arg feeding (ATS + L-Arg = 166 +/- 12, P < 0.01). Plasma NOx was significantly increased by ATS and further increased by ATS + L-Arg (P < 0.05). Production of NOx by cultured glomeruli showed striking L-Arg concentration dependence in six hours but not in normal glomeruli. In the group sacrificed at day 6, day 2 proteinuria was higher in the ATS + L-Arg group compared with the ATS alone group (P < 0.05). Measures of fibrotic disease at day 6 all showed large increases over control with ATS alone (P < 0.01), and further small, but significant increases when L-Arg was combined with ATS (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

The results indicate that if given during disease induction, L-Arg supplementation can enhance iNOS-dependent tissue injury by providing increased substrate. Although the increase in injury with L-Arg supplementation was small, it led to increased fibrosis at day 6. These data predict that in diseases with repeated iNOS-dependent tissue injury, L-Arg supplementation may produce cumulative increases in tissue fibrosis.

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