Dietary supplementation with watermelon pomace juice enhances arginine availability and ameliorates the metabolic syndrome in Zucker diabetic fatty rats.
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Watermelon is rich in L-citrulline, an effective precursor of L-arginine. This study was conducted to determine whether dietary supplementation with watermelon pomace juice could ameliorate the metabolic syndrome in the Zucker diabetic fatty (ZDF) rat, an animal model of noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Nine-week-old ZDF rats were assigned randomly to receive drinking water containing 0% (control) or 0.2% L-arginine (as 0.24% L-arginine-HCl), 63% watermelon pomace juice, 0.01% lycopene, or 0.05% citrus pectin (n = 6 per treatment). At the end of the 4-wk supplementation period, blood samples, aortic rings, and hearts were obtained for biochemical and physiological analyses. Feed or energy intakes did not differ among the 5 groups of rats. However, dietary supplementation with watermelon pomace juice or L-arginine increased serum concentrations of arginine; reduced fat accretion; lowered serum concentrations of glucose, free fatty acids, homocysteine, and dimethylarginines; enhanced GTP cyclohydrolase-I activity and tetrahydrobiopterin concentrations in the heart; and improved acetylcholine-induced vascular relaxation. Compared with the control, dietary supplementation with lycopene or citrus pectin did not affect any measured parameter. These results provide the first evidence to our knowledge for a beneficial effect of watermelon pomace juice as a functional food for increasing arginine availability, reducing serum concentrations of cardiovascular risk factors, improving glycemic control, and ameliorating vascular dysfunction in obese animals with type-II diabetes.