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J Allergy (Cairo). 2011;2011:736319. doi: 10.1155/2011/736319. Epub 2011 Apr 26.

Arginase and arginine dysregulation in asthma.

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Bay Area Pediatric Pulmonary Medical Corporation, Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland, Oakland, CA 94609, USA.


In recent years, evidence has accumulated indicating that the enzyme arginase, which converts L-arginine into L-ornithine and urea, plays a key role in the pathogenesis of pulmonary disorders such as asthma through dysregulation of L-arginine metabolism and modulation of nitric oxide (NO) homeostasis. Allergic asthma is characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness, inflammation, and remodeling. Through substrate competition, arginase decreases bioavailability of L-arginine for nitric oxide synthase (NOS), thereby limiting NO production with subsequent effects on airway tone and inflammation. By decreasing L-arginine bioavailability, arginase may also contribute to the uncoupling of NOS and the formation of the proinflammatory oxidant peroxynitrite in the airways. Finally, arginase may play a role in the development of chronic airway remodeling through formation of L-ornithine with downstream production of polyamines and L-proline, which are involved in processes of cellular proliferation and collagen deposition. Further research on modulation of arginase activity and L-arginine bioavailability may reveal promising novel therapeutic strategies for asthma.

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