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. 2012 Jun 26;9(1):30.
doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-30.

A Sportomics Strategy to Analyze the Ability of Arginine to Modulate Both Ammonia and Lymphocyte Levels in Blood After High-Intensity Exercise

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Free PMC article

A Sportomics Strategy to Analyze the Ability of Arginine to Modulate Both Ammonia and Lymphocyte Levels in Blood After High-Intensity Exercise

Luis Carlos Gonçalves et al. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Background: Exercise is an excellent tool to study the interactions between metabolic stress and the immune system. Specifically, high-intensity exercises both produce transient hyperammonemia and influence the distribution of white blood cells. Carbohydrates and glutamine and arginine supplementation were previously shown to effectively modulate ammonia levels during exercise. In this study, we used a short-duration, high-intensity exercise together with a low carbohydrate diet to induce a hyperammonemia state and better understand how arginine influences both ammonemia and the distribution of leukocytes in the blood.

Methods: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners (men, n = 39) volunteered for this study. The subjects followed a low-carbohydrate diet for four days before the trials and received either arginine supplementation (100 mg·kg-1 of body mass·day-1) or a placebo. The intergroup statistical significance was calculated by a one-way analysis of variance, followed by Student's t-test. The data correlations were calculated using Pearson's test.

Results: In the control group, ammonemia increased during matches at almost twice the rate of the arginine group (25 mmol·L-1·min-1 and 13 μmol·L-1·min-1, respectively). Exercise induced an increase in leukocytes of approximately 75%. An even greater difference was observed in the lymphocyte count, which increased 2.2-fold in the control group; this increase was partially prevented by arginine supplementation. The shape of the ammonemia curve suggests that arginine helps prevent increases in ammonia levels.

Conclusions: These data indicate that increases in lymphocytes and ammonia are simultaneously reduced by arginine supplementation. We propose that increased serum lymphocytes could be related to changes in ammonemia and ammonia metabolism.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Experimental design. Before the experiment, the athletes were subjected to a four-day LCD as described in the Materials and Methods. Blood was collected before the athletes received supplementation (PRE). Warm-up and exercise protocols were performed, followed by six blood collections immediately after exercise (POST; 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10 min).
Figure 2
Figure 2
Blood ammonia concentration increases after a high-intensity exercise in an arginine supplementation-dependent manner. A six-minute Jiu-Jitsu match was performed after a three-day LCD by athletes who had received either arginine (RG, Δ) or a placebo (PG, ●). Blood was collected before and after exercise and treated as described in the Materials and Methods. Control, n = 23; Arginine, n = 16. (*) denotes that the average ± SE is different from the pre-exercise values; (#) denotes a difference between the two experimental groups. The calculated area under the curve was 3397 μmol/L·min-1 for the placebo group and 2366 μmol/L·min-1 for the arginine group.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Glucose increases in response to exercise in a supplementation-independent manner (A). Neither supplementation nor exercise affects urea (B) or urate (C) after intense exercise. Control, n = 23 (PG, ●); Arginine, n = 16 (RG, Δ). (*) denotes that the average ± SE is different from the pre-exercise values.
Figure 4
Figure 4
White blood cell counts increase (A) after intense exercise without changes in packed cell volume (B). Control, n = 23 (PG, ●); Arginine, n = 16 (RG, Δ). (*) denotes that the average ± SE is different from the pre-exercise values. The absolute pre-exercise WBC counts are 5.9 ± 0.2 cells × 109/L for the PG and 6.4 ± 0.5 cells × 109/L for the RG; the packed cell volumes are 47.5 ± 0.6% for the PG and 46.6 ± 0.6% for the RG.
Figure 5
Figure 5
Granulocyte counts in response to exercise and supplementation. Basophils (A); eosinophils (B); neutrophils (C). Control, n = 23 (PG, ●); Arginine, n = 16 (RG, Δ). (*) denotes that the average ± SE is different from the pre-exercise values; (#) denotes a difference between the experimental groups. The absolute pre-exercise values for basophils are 2.6 ± 0.4 × 107 cells /L for the PG and 1.9 ± 0.9 × 107 cells /L for the RG; for eosinophils, 1.8 ± 0.3 × 108 cells /L for the PG and 2.0 ± 0.5 × 108 cells /L for the RG; and for neutrophils, 3.1 ± 0.2 × 109 cells /L for the PG and 2.7 ± 0.4 × 109 cells /L for the RG.
Figure 6
Figure 6
Exercise induces an increase in lymphocytes in an arginine supplementation-dependent manner. Control, n = 23 (PG, ●); Arginine, n = 16 (RG, Δ). (*) denotes that the average ± SE is different from the pre-exercise values. The absolute pre-exercise values are shown within the graphs. The absolute pre-exercise values for lymphocytes are 2.2 ± 0.1 × 109 cells /L for the PG and 2.9 ± 0.3 × 109 cells /L for the RG (no statistically significant difference, p = 0.07).
Figure 7
Figure 7
Ammonemia increase is related to the blood lymphocyte count. The lymphocyte count is plotted against ammonemia. (*) denotes that the average ± SE is different from the pre-exercise values; (#) denotes a difference between the experimental groups. Pearson correlations indicate that the relationship between the lymphocyte count and ammonemia is indirect. The lymphocyte increases were normalized to pre-fight levels to ensure a better understanding of the results. Control, n = 23 (PG, ●); Arginine, n = 16 (RG, Δ).

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