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Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2009;2(3):211-38. Epub 2008 Oct 2.

L-arginine and Alzheimer's disease.

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Neurochemistry Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common form of dementia, is characterized by progressive neurodegeneration and loss of cognitive and memory functions. Although the exact causes of AD are still unclear, evidence suggests that atherosclerosis, redox stress, inflammation, neurotransmitter dysregulation, and impaired brain energy metabolism may all be associated with AD pathogenesis. Herein, we explore a possible role for L-arginine (L-arg) in AD, taking into consideration known functions for L-arg in atherosclerosis, redox stress and the inflammatory process, regulation of synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis, and modulation of glucose metabolism and insulin activity. L-arg, a precursor of nitric oxide and polyamine, exhibits multiple functions in human health and may play a prominent role in age-related degenerative diseases such as AD.


Alzheimer's disease; L-arginine; arginase; neurogenesis; nitric oxide; nitric oxide synthase; polyamines; stem cells


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