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Vasc Med. 2009 Aug;14(3):239-48. doi: 10.1177/1358863X08100834.

The effect of L-arginine and creatine on vascular function and homocysteine metabolism.

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Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


Studies with L-arginine supplementation have shown inconsistent effects on endothelial function. The generation of guanidinoacetate (GAA) from L-arginine with subsequent formation of creatine and homocysteine and consumption of methionine may reduce the pool of L-arginine available for nitric oxide generation. Experimental studies suggest that creatine supplementation might block this pathway. We sought to determine the effects of L-arginine, creatine, or the combination on endothelium-dependent vasodilation and homocysteine metabolism in patients with coronary artery disease. Patients with coronary artery disease were randomized to L-arginine (9 g/day), creatine (21 g/day), L-arginine plus creatine, or placebo for 4 days (n = 26-29/group). Brachial artery flow-mediated dilation and plasma levels of L-arginine, creatine, homocysteine, methionine, and GAA were measured at baseline and follow-up. L-arginine and creatine supplementation had no effects on vascular function. L-arginine alone increased GAA (p < 0.01) and the ratio of homocysteine to methionine (p < 0.01), suggesting increased methylation demand. The combination of creatinine and L-arginine did not suppress GAA production or prevent the increase in homocysteine-to-methionine ratio. Unexpectedly, creatine supplementation (alone or in combination with L-arginine) was associated with an 11-20% increase in homocysteine concentration (p < 0.05), which was not attributable to worsened renal function, providing evidence against an effect of creatine on decreasing methylation demand. In conclusion, the present study provides no evidence that L-arginine supplementation improves endothelial function and suggests that l-arginine may increase methylation demand. Creatine supplementation failed to alter the actions of L-arginine on vascular function or suppress methylation demand. The unexpected increase in homocysteine levels following creatine supplementation could have adverse effects and merits further study, since creatine is a commonly used dietary supplement.

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