Acute administration of L-arginine does not improve arterial endothelial function in chronic renal failure.
Cross JM., Donald AE., Kharbanda R., Deanfield JE., Woolfson RG., MacAllister RJ.
BACKGROUND: Reduced activity of the nitric oxide (NO) pathway has been implicated in the endothelial dysfunction that occurs in patients with renal failure. NO is generated from L-arginine by NO synthase, and certain uremic toxins including asymmetrical dimethyl-L-arginine (ADMA), inhibit NO synthase and might contribute to endothelial dysfunction. We hypothesized that exogenous L-arginine might improve endothelial function in patients with renal failure by overcoming the effects of uremic toxins. METHODS: Endothelial function of the forearm resistance vasculature was assessed using plethysmography to measure the dilator response to intra-arterial acetylcholine (25 to 100 nmol/min). Endothelial function of radial and brachial arteries was assessed using vascular ultrasound to measure the dilator response to flow during reactive hyperemia (flow-mediated dilation; FMD). Studies were performed before and after administration of L-arginine by intra-arterial infusion (50 micromol/min) in 8 pre-dialysis patients or by intravenous infusion (10 g) in 18 hemodialysis patients. RESULTS: Local L-arginine did not improve the dilator response of forearm resistance vessels (AUC 23.1 +/- 6.4 pre, 23.1 +/- 5.1 post; P = 0.9) or FMD of the radial artery (6.5 +/- 1.2% pre, 6.3 +/- 0.8% post; P = 0.8). Systemic L-arginine did not improve FMD of the brachial artery (4.1 +/- 1.1% pre, 3.0 +/- 1.1% post; P = 0.07). These data demonstrate that acute local or systemic administration of L-arginine did not improve endothelial function in resistance or conduit arteries of patients with chronic renal failure. CONCLUSION: The results suggest that competitive inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) by circulating inhibitors is not the principal explanation for impaired endothelial dilator function in chronic renal failure.