Obesity- and sex-related metabolism of arginine and nitric oxide in adults. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: There is growing interest in the supplementation of arginine (Arg) and citrulline (Cit) in obesity due to their potential anti-obesogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. However, there is no consensus on the metabolic changes in Arg kinetics in obesity. OBJECTIVES: This exploratory cross-sectional study aimed to investigate the association between obesity, sex, and sex-by-obesity interaction on whole-body Arg kinetics in a large group of human subjects. METHODS: We studied 83 nonobese [BMI (kg/m2) <30] and 80 morbidly obese (BMI >30) middle-aged individuals (40% males) enrolled in the MEDIT (Metabolism of Disease with Isotope Tracers) trial. After body-composition measurement by DXA, we collected arterial(ized) blood samples for amino acid (AA) concentrations, markers of inflammation [high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP)], liver function, and glucose in a postabsorptive state. We administered a pulse of AA stable tracers and measured whole-body production (WBP) of Arg, Cit, ornithine (Orn), phenylalanine, and tyrosine, and calculated their clearance (disposal capacity) and metabolite interconversions [markers for NO and de novo Arg production, systemic Arg hydrolysis, and whole-body protein breakdown (wbPB)]. We measured plasma enrichments by LC-MS/MS and statistics by Fisher's exact test or analysis of (co)variance. Significance was set at P<0.05. RESULTS: Obese individuals were normoglycemic and characterized by low-grade inflammation (P<0.0001) and greater wbPB (P=0.0298). We found lower plasma Cit concentration (P<0.0001) in the obese group but no differences in the WBP of Arg, Cit, and Orn. Furthermore, we observed overproduction of NO (P<0.0001) in obesity but lower de novo Arg production (P=0.0007). The WBP of Arg was lower in females for almost all Arg-related AAs, except for plasma Cit and NO production. CONCLUSIONS: Alterations in Arg metabolism are present in morbid obesity. Further studies are needed to investigate if these changes could be related to factors such as increased Arg requirement in obesity or metabolic adaptation.

published proceedings

  • Am J Clin Nutr

author list (cited authors)

  • Wierzchowska-McNew, R. A., Engelen, M., Thaden, J. J., Ten Have, G., & Deutz, N.

complete list of authors

  • Wierzchowska-McNew, Raven A||Engelen, MariĆ«lle PKJ||Thaden, John J||Ten Have, Gabriella AM||Deutz, Nicolaas EP

publication date

  • December 2022