Arginine appearance and nitric oxide synthesis in critically ill infants can be increased with a protein-energy–enriched enteral formula Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Arginine is considered an essential amino acid during critical illness in children, and supplementation of arginine has been proposed to improve arginine availability to facilitate nitric oxide (NO) synthesis. Protein-energy-enriched enteral formulas (PE-formulas) can improve nutrient intake and promote anabolism in critically ill infants. However, the effect of increased protein and energy intake on arginine metabolism is not known. OBJECTIVE: We investigated the effect of a PE-formula compared with that of a standard infant formula (S-formula) on arginine kinetics in critically ill infants. DESIGN: A 2-h stable-isotope tracer protocol was conducted in 2 groups of critically ill infants with respiratory failure because of viral bronchiolitis, who received either a PE-formula (n = 8) or S-formula (n = 10) in a randomized, blinded, controlled setting. Data were reported as means ± SDs. RESULTS: The intake of a PE-formula in critically ill infants (aged 0.23 ± 0.14 y) resulted in an increased arginine appearance (PE-formula: 248 ± 114 μmol · kg(-1) · h(-1); S-formula: 130 ± 53 μmol · kg(-1) · h(-1); P = 0.012) and NO synthesis (PE-formula: 1.92 ± 0.99 μmol · kg(-1) · h(-1); S-formula: 0.84 ± 0.36 μmol · kg(-1) · h(-1); P = 0.003), whereas citrulline production and plasma arginine concentrations were unaffected. CONCLUSION: In critically ill infants with respiratory failure because of viral bronchiolitis, the intake of a PE-formula increases arginine availability by increasing arginine appearance, which leads to increased NO synthesis, independent of plasma arginine concentrations. This trial was registered at as NTR515.

altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • de Betue, C. T., Joosten, K. F., Deutz, N. E., Vreugdenhil, A. C., & van Waardenburg, D. A.

citation count

  • 28

publication date

  • October 2013