The activation of the arginine-citrulline cycle in macrophages from the spontaneously diabetic BB rat
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The activity of the arginine-citrulline cycle was investigated in macrophages from the spontaneous immunologically mediated diabetic BB rat. Peritoneal macrophages were prepared from male diabetes-prone (BBdp), diabetic (BBd) and age-matched non-diabetes-prone (BBn) rats. Cells were incubated at 37 degrees C for 2 h in Krebs-Henseleit bicarbonate buffer containing 0.5 mM L-arginine, 0.1 mM L-[ureido-14C]citrulline and 5 mM D-glucose to measure the activity of the arginine-citrulline cycle. The uptakes of citrulline and arginine by macrophages were measured during a 5 min incubation period with L-[ureido-14C]citrulline and L-[2,3-3H] arginine respectively. The production of NO3- (the major stable oxidation product of NO) increased (P < 0.01) by 112% and 151% in 75-day-old BBdp and 115-day-old BBd macrophages respectively, compared with age-matched BBn cells. The conversion of [14C]citrulline into [14C]arginine increased (P < 0.01) by 704%, 892% and 904% in 50- and 75-day-old BBdp and 115-day-old BBd macrophages respectively, compared with age-matched BBn cells. The enhanced NO synthesis in BBdp and BBd macrophages was associated with a 25-35% increase in the uptake of L-arginine. However, there were no differences in the uptake of citrulline between BBdp or BBd macrophages and age-matched BBn cells. Our results demonstrate for the first time the activation of the arginine-citrulline cycle in macrophages in an autoimmune condition. The inherent increase in the recycling of L-citrulline to L-arginine in BBdp and BBd macrophages may reflect an innate metabolic disorder in these cells. This increased L-arginine synthesis from L-citrulline may play a role in sustaining a sufficient intracellular L-arginine concentration for prolonged generation of NO in BBdp and BBd macrophages. A role for NO in the autoimmune destruction of pancreatic beta-cells in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus warrants further investigation.
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