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J Med Chem. 2006 Aug 10;49(16):4826-33.

Galactosyl derivatives of L-arginine and D-arginine: synthesis, stability, cell permeation, and nitric oxide production in pituitary GH3 cells.

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Division of Pharmacology, Department of Neuroscience, School of Medicine, Federico II University of Naples, Via Sergio Pansini 5, 80131 Naples, Italy.


Nitric oxide (NO) is critical for the normal physiological regulation of the nervous system and other tissues. L-Arginine, but not D-arginine, is the natural substrate for nitric oxide synthase (NOS), for it is enzymatically converted to NO and L-citrulline. However, recent evidence suggests that D-arginine can also produce NO and NO-derivatives via a different pathway. The aim of the present paper was to raise NO levels in the cells by increasing the cell permeation of its precursors. To this aim, two galactosyl prodrugs, L-arginine-D-galactos-6'-yl ester (L-ArgGal) and D-arginine-D-galactos-6'-yl ester (D-ArgGal) were synthesized. Remarkably, using the HPLC-ESI/MS technique, we found that L-ArgGal and D-ArgGal prodrugs both increased the concentration levels of L- and D-arginine and their derivatives in pituitary GH3 cells. Furthermore, we found that D-ArgGal (1) penetrated cell membranes more rapidly than its precursor D-arginine, (2) released arginine more slowly and in greater amounts than L-ArgGal, and (3) produced much higher levels of DAF-2 monitored NO and nitrite than did L-ArgGal under the same experimental conditions. In conclusion, these results indicate that an increase in the cell permeation of L- and D-arginine by L-ArgGal and D-ArgGal can lead to an increase in NO levels.

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