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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2008 Jul;295(1):H39-47. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00162.2008. Epub 2008 May 2.

Arginine therapy of transgenic-knockout sickle mice improves microvascular function by reducing non-nitric oxide vasodilators, hemolysis, and oxidative stress.

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Dept. of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


In sickle cell disease, nitric oxide (NO) depletion by cell-free plasma hemoglobin and/or oxygen radicals is associated with arginine deficiency, impaired NO bioavailability, and chronic oxidative stress. In transgenic-knockout sickle (BERK) mice that express exclusively human alpha- and beta(S)-globins, reduced NO bioavailability is associated with induction of non-NO vasodilator enzyme, cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, and impaired NO-mediated vascular reactivity. We hypothesized that enhanced NO bioavailability in sickle mice will abate activity of non-NO vasodilators, improve vascular reactivity, decrease hemolysis, and reduce oxidative stress. Arginine treatment of BERK mice (5% arginine in mouse chow for 15 days) significantly reduced expression of non-NO vasodilators COX-2 and heme oxygenase-1. The decreased COX-2 expression resulted in reduced prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) levels. The reduced expression of non-NO vasodilators was associated with significantly decreased arteriolar dilation and markedly improved NO-mediated vascular reactivity. Arginine markedly decreased hemolysis and oxidative stress and enhanced NO bioavailability. Importantly, arteriolar diameter response to a NO donor (sodium nitroprusside) was strongly correlated with hemolytic rate (and nitrotyrosine formation), suggesting that the improved microvascular function was a response to reduced hemolysis. These results provide a strong rationale for therapeutic use of arginine in sickle cell disease and other hemolytic diseases.

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