The metabolic basis of arginine nutrition and pharmacotherapy

Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Nov;56(9):427-38. doi: 10.1016/s0753-3322(02)00273-1.


As an essential precursor for the synthesis of proteins and other molecules with enormous biological importance (including nitric oxide, urea, ornithine, proline, polyamines, glutamate, creatine, agmatine, and dimethylarginines), arginine displays remarkable metabolic and regulatory versatility. Evidence available to date provides a sound reason to classify arginine as an essential amino acid for young mammals (including parenterally fed human infants) and as a conditionally essential amino acid for adults under such conditions as trauma, burn injury, massive small-bowel resection, and renal failure. Arginine administration reverses endothelial dysfunction, enhances wound healing, prevents the early stages of tumorigenesis, and improves cardiovascular, reproductive, pulmonary, renal, digestive, and immune functions. Arginine or its effective precursor citrulline may hold great promise as a nutritional or pharmacotherapeutic treatment for a wide array of human diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginine / metabolism*
  • Arginine / physiology
  • Arginine / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*


  • Arginine