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J Nutr. 2007 Jun;137(6 Suppl 2):1602S-1609S. doi: 10.1093/jn/137.6.1602S.

Arginine metabolism: boundaries of our knowledge.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


Arginine has multiple metabolic fates and thus is one of the most versatile amino acids. Not only is it metabolically interconvertible with the amino acids proline and glutamate, but it also serves as a precursor for synthesis of protein, nitric oxide, creatine, polyamines, agmatine, and urea. These processes do not all occur within each cell but are differentially expressed according to cell type, age and developmental stage, diet, and state of health or disease. Arginine metabolism also is modulated by activities of various transporters that move arginine and its metabolites across the plasma and mitochondrial membranes. Moreover, several key enzymes in arginine metabolism are expressed as multiple isozymes whose expression can change rapidly and dramatically in response to a variety of different stimuli in health and disease. As illustrated by the questions raised in this article, we currently have an imperfect and incomplete picture of arginine metabolism for any mammalian species. It has become clear that a more complete understanding of arginine metabolism will require integration of information obtained from multiple approaches, including genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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