Bolus arginine supplementation affects neither muscle blood flow nor muscle protein synthesis in young men at rest or after resistance exercise

J Nutr. 2011 Feb;141(2):195-200. doi: 10.3945/jn.110.130138. Epub 2010 Dec 29.


The aim of this study was to investigate the ergogenic potential of arginine on NO synthesis, muscle blood flow, and skeletal muscle protein synthesis (MPS). Eight healthy young men (22.1 ± 2.6 y, 1.79 ± 0.06 m, 76.6 ± 6.2 kg; mean ± SD) participated in 2 trials where they performed a bout of unilateral leg resistance exercise and ingested a drink containing either 10 g essential amino acids with 10 g l-arginine (ARG) or an isonitrogenous control (CON). Femoral artery blood flow of both the nonexercised and exercised leg was measured continuously using pulsed-wave Doppler ultrasound, while rates of mixed and myofibrillar MPS were determined using a primed continuous infusion of L-[ring-(13)C(6)] or L-[ring-(2)H(5)]phenylalanine. The plasma arginine concentration increased 300% during the ARG trial but not during the CON trial (P < 0.001). Plasma nitrate, nitrite, and endothelin-1, all markers of NO synthesis, did not change during either the ARG or CON trial. Plasma growth hormone increased to a greater degree after exercise in the ARG trial than CON trial (P < 0.05). Femoral artery blood flow increased 270% above basal in the exercised leg (P < 0.001) but not in the nonexercised leg, with no differences between the ARG and CON trials. Mixed and myofibrillar MPS were both greater in the exercised leg compared with the nonexercised leg (P < 0.001), but did not differ between the ARG and CON treatments. We conclude that an oral bolus (10 g) of arginine does not increase NO synthesis or muscle blood flow. Furthermore, arginine does not enhance mixed or myofibrillar MPS either at rest or after resistance exercise beyond that achieved by feeding alone.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arginine / blood
  • Arginine / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Endothelin-1 / blood
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Femoral Artery
  • Human Growth Hormone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Myofibrils / drug effects
  • Myofibrils / metabolism
  • Nitrates / blood
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis*
  • Nitrites / blood
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Regional Blood Flow / drug effects*
  • Resistance Training
  • Rest
  • Young Adult


  • Endothelin-1
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Arginine