Arginine deiminase: a potential inhibitor of angiogenesis and tumour growth

Br J Cancer. 2003 Sep 1;89(5):907-14. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6601181.


Hydrolysis of plasma arginine to citrulline by arginine deiminase (ADI) was recently shown to suppress lipopolysaccharide-induced nitric oxide (NO) synthesis. Since arginine is the precursor of NO, and the latter modulates angiogenesis, we explored whether ADI treatment significantly affected tube-like (capillary) formation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Inhibition occurred in a dose-dependent manner, both in the chorioallantoic membrane and the murine Matrigel plug assay. Inhibition of angiogenesis by ADI was reversed when a surplus of exogenous arginine was provided, indicating that its antiangiogenic effect is primarily due to arginine depletion, although other pathways of interference are not entirely excluded. Arginine deiminase is also shown to be as a potent inhibitor of tumour growth in vitro as in vivo, being effective at nanogram quantities per millilitre in CHO and HeLa cells. Thus, it could be highly beneficial in cancer therapy because of its two-pronged attack as both an antiproliferative and an antiangiogenic agent.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginine / metabolism
  • CHO Cells
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Chick Embryo
  • Cricetinae
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Fibroblasts / enzymology
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / enzymology*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Umbilical Veins / cytology


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Arginine
  • Hydrolases
  • arginine deiminase