Overexpression of arginase alters circulating and tissue amino acids and guanidino compounds and affects neuromotor behavior in mice. Academic Article uri icon


  • Arginine is an intermediate of the ornithine cycle and serves as a precursor for the synthesis of nitric oxide, creatine, agmatine and proteins. It is considered to be a conditionally essential amino acid because endogenous synthesis only barely meets daily requirements. In rapidly growing suckling neonates, endogenous arginine biosynthesis is crucial to compensate for the insufficient supply of arginine via the milk. Evidence is accumulating that the intestine rather than the kidney plays a major role in arginine synthesis in this period. Accordingly, ectopic expression of hepatic arginase in murine enterocytes by genetic modification induces a selective arginine deficiency. The ensuing phenotype, whose severity correlates with the level of transgene expression in the enterocytes, could be reversed with arginine supplementation. We analyzed the effect of arginine deficiency on guanidine metabolism and neuromotor behavior. Arginine-deficient transgenic mice continued to suffer from an arginine deficiency after the arginine biosynthetic enzymes had disappeared from the enterocytes. Postweaning catch-up growth in arginine-deficient mice was characterized by increased levels of all measured amino acids except arginine. Furthermore, plasma total amino acid concentration, including arginine, was significantly lower in adult male than in adult female transgenic mice. Decreases in the concentration of plasma and tissue arginine led to significant decreases in most metabolites of arginine. However, the accumulation of the toxic guanidino compounds, guanidinosuccinic acid and methylguanidine, corresponded inversely with circulating arginine concentration, possibly reflecting a higher oxidative stress under hypoargininemic conditions. In addition, hypoargininemia was associated with disturbed neuromotor behavior, although brain levels of toxic guanidino compounds and ammonia were normal.

published proceedings

  • J Nutr

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • de Jonge, W. J., Marescau, B., D'Hooge, R., De Deyn, P. P., Hallemeesch, M. M., Deutz, N. E., Ruijter, J. M., & Lamers, W. H.

citation count

  • 33

complete list of authors

  • de Jonge, WJ||Marescau, B||D'Hooge, R||De Deyn, PP||Hallemeesch, MM||Deutz, NE||Ruijter, JM||Lamers, WH

publication date

  • January 2001