Background & aims: Citrulline increases protein synthesis during refeeding in rodents with short bowel syndrome, aging and malnutrition, and improves nitrogen balance in fed healthy humans. The aim of the current study therefore was to determine whether citrulline had affected protein metabolism in healthy volunteers.
Methods: In a randomized, double-blind, cross-over study, 12 healthy adults received a 5-h intravenous infusion of L-[1-(13)C]-leucine in the post-absorptive state, after a 7-day oral supplementation with 0.18 g/kg/day citrulline, or an iso-nitrogenous placebo. Treatment order was randomized, treatment periods were separated by 13-day wash out. Leucine appearance rate (Ra) was determined from plasma [1-(13)C]-keto-iso-caproate enrichment and leucine oxidation from expired (13)CO(2), and nitrogen balance was estimated from 6-h urinary urea excretion.
Results: Compared with placebo, oral citrulline supplementation increased plasma citrulline, arginine and ornithine concentrations, but failed to affect albumin, transthyretin, free insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 plasma concentrations, urinary nitrate excretion, or nitrogen balance. Citrulline supplementation did not alter leucine Ra, leucine oxidation, nor whole-body protein synthesis.
Conclusion: In healthy, well nourished volunteers, oral citrulline increases plasma citrulline and arginine availability but does not affect whole-body protein kinetics in the post-absorptive state.
2011 Elsevier Ltd and European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. All rights reserved.