Arginine nutrition and cardiovascular function

J Nutr. 2000 Nov;130(11):2626-9. doi: 10.1093/jn/130.11.2626.


L-Arginine (Arg) is the substrate for the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), the endothelium-derived relaxing factor essential for regulating vascular tone and hemodynamics. NO stimulates angiogenesis, but inhibits endothelin-1 release, leukocyte adhesion, platelet aggregation, superoxide generation, the expression of vascular cell adhesion molecules and monocyte chemotactic peptides, and smooth muscle cell proliferation. Arg exerts its vascular actions also through NO-independent effects, including membrane depolarization, syntheses of creatine, proline and polyamines, secretion of insulin, growth hormone, glucagon and prolactin, plasmin generation and fibrinogenolysis, superoxide scavenging and inhibition of leukocyte adhesion to nonendothelial matrix. Compelling evidence shows that enteral or parenteral administration of Arg reverses endothelial dysfunction associated with major cardiovascular risk factors (hypercholesterolemia, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, obesity/insulin resistance and aging) and ameliorates many common cardiovascular disorders (coronary and peripheral arterial disease, ischemia/reperfusion injury, and heart failure). Dietary Arg supplementation may represent a potentially novel nutritional strategy for preventing and treating cardiovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Arginine* / blood
  • Arginine* / deficiency
  • Arginine* / physiology
  • Arginine* / therapeutic use
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Nitric Oxide* / deficiency
  • Nitric Oxide* / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide* / physiology
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*


  • Nitric Oxide
  • Arginine