Intravenous administration of L-citrulline to pregnant ewes is more effective than L-arginine for increasing arginine availability in the fetus. Academic Article uri icon


  • L-arginine administration may be useful for the treatment of intrauterine growth restriction, but concerns remain about effective precursors for administration into pregnant dams. Therefore, we used an ovine model to test the hypothesis that infusion of L-citrulline into the maternal circulation increases L-arginine availability to the fetus. On d 135 +/- 1 of gestation, ewes received an i.v. bolus dose of L-citrulline (155 micromol/kg body weight) or the same dose of L-arginine-HCl. Maternal and fetal arterial blood samples were obtained simultaneously at -120, -60, 0, 5, 15, 30, 60, 120, 180, and 240 min relative to the time of amino acid administration. Concentrations of arginine in maternal plasma increased to peak values within 5 min after its injection in ewes and declined rapidly thereafter, whereas concentrations of arginine in fetal plasma increased between 15 and 30 min and returned to baseline values by 60 min. In contrast, administration of citrulline increased concentrations of citrulline and arginine in maternal and fetal plasma between 5 and 60 min and values remained elevated thereafter. The differential pharmacokinetics for arginine compared with citrulline infusion was consistent with the observation that the half-life of citrulline was twice that of arginine in ewes. We conclude that i.v. administration of citrulline is more effective than arginine in sustaining high concentrations of arginine in the maternal and fetal circulations of pregnant ewes. These novel findings provide support for studies of the clinical use of arginine and citrulline as therapeutic means to prevent or ameliorate fetal growth retardation in mammals.

published proceedings

  • J Nutr

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Lassala, A., Bazer, F. W., Cudd, T. A., Li, P., Li, X., Satterfield, M. C., Spencer, T. E., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 66

complete list of authors

  • Lassala, Arantzatzu||Bazer, Fuller W||Cudd, Timothy A||Li, Peng||Li, Xilong||Satterfield, M Carey||Spencer, Thomas E||Wu, Guoyao

publication date

  • April 2009