Open Access funded by Ministry of Science & Technology, Egypt
l-Arginine is one of the most metabolically versatile amino acids. In addition to its role in the synthesis of nitric oxide, l-arginine serves as a precursor for the synthesis of polyamines, proline, glutamate, creatine, agmatine and urea. Several human and experimental animal studies have indicated that exogenous l-arginine intake has multiple beneficial pharmacological effects when taken in doses larger than normal dietary consumption. Such effects include reduction in the risk of vascular and heart diseases, reduction in erectile dysfunction, improvement in immune response and inhibition of gastric hyperacidity. This review summarises several positive studies and personal experiences of l-arginine. The demonstrated anti-aging benefits of l-arginine show greater potential than any pharmaceutical or nutraceutical agent ever previously discovered.
Metabolism of l-arginine: an entrance to clinical value
l-Arginine is a basic natural amino acid. Its occurrence in mammalian protein was discovered by Hedin in 1895 . l-Arginine is engaged in several metabolic pathways within the human body. It serves as a precursor for the synthesis not only of proteins but also of urea, polyamines, proline, glutamate, creatine and agmatine (Fig. 1) . As part of this, l-arginine is an essential component of the urea cycle, the only pathway in mammals that allows the elimination of toxic ammonia from the body. Ornithine, the by-product of this reaction, is a precursor for the synthesis of polyamines, molecules essential for cell proliferation and differentiation. l-Arginine is also required for the synthesis of creatine, an essential energy source for muscle contraction. Agmatine, which has a clonidine-like action on blood pressure, is also formed from l-arginine, though its physiological function is not yet fully understood. However, current interest in l-arginine is focused mainly on its close relationship with the important signal molecule nitric oxide (NO). l-Arginine is the only substrate in the biosynthesis of NO, which plays critical roles in diverse physiological processes in the human body including neurotransmission, vasorelaxation, cytotoxicity and immunity.
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