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Vasc Med. 2005 Jul;10 Suppl 1:S73-81.

ADMA metabolism and clearance.

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Metabolic Laboratory, Department of Clinical Chemistry, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The plasma concentration of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), an endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase, is the resultant of many processes at cellular and organ levels. Post-translational methylation of arginine residues of proteins plays a crucial role in the regulation of their functions, which include processes such as transcription, translation and RNA splicing. Because protein methylation is irreversible, the methylation signal can be turned off only by proteolysis of the entire protein. Consequently, most methylated proteins have high turnover rates. Free ADMA, which is formed during proteolysis, is actively degraded by the intracellular enzyme dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase (DDAH). Some ADMA escapes degradation and leaves the cell via cationic amino acid transporters. These transporters also mediate uptake of ADMA by neighboring cells or distant organs, thereby facilitating active interorgan transport. Clearance of ADMA from the plasma occurs in small part by urinary excretion, but the bulk of ADMA is degraded by intracellular DDAH, after uptake from the circulation. This review discusses the various processes involved in ADMA metabolism: protein methylation, proteolysis of methylated proteins, metabolism by DDAH, and interorgan transport. In addition, the role of the kidney and the liver in the clearance of ADMA is highlighted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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