L-Arginine and its metabolites in kidney and cardiovascular disease

Amino Acids. 2014 Oct;46(10):2271-86. doi: 10.1007/s00726-014-1825-9. Epub 2014 Aug 27.


L-Arginine is a semi essential amino acid synthesised from glutamine, glutamate and proline via the intestinal-renal axis in humans and most mammals. L-Arginine degradation occurs via multiple pathways initiated by arginase, nitric-oxide synthase, Arg: glycine amidinotransferase, and Arg decarboxylase. These pathways produce nitric oxide, polyamines, proline, glutamate, creatine and agmatine with each having enormous biological importance. Several disease are associated to an L-arginine impaired levels and/or to its metabolites: in particular various L-arginine metabolites may participate in pathogenesis of kidney and cardiovascular disease. L-Arginine and its metabolites may constitute both a marker of pathology progression both the rationale for manipulating L-arginine metabolism as a strategy to ameliorate these disease. A large number of studies have been performed in experimental models of kidney disease with sometimes conflicting results, which underlie the complexity of Arg metabolism and our incomplete knowledge of all the mechanisms involved. Moreover several lines of evidence demonstrate the role of L-arg metabolites in cardiovascular disease and that L-arg administration role in reversing endothelial dysfunction, which is the leading cause of cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension and atherosclerosis. This review will discuss the implication of the mains L-arginine metabolites and L-arginine-derived guanidine compounds in kidney and cardiovascular disease considering the more recent literature in the field.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginase / metabolism
  • Arginine / analogs & derivatives
  • Arginine / metabolism
  • Arginine / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Carboxy-Lyases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / enzymology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Kidney / enzymology
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Isoenzymes
  • Arginine
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Arginase
  • Carboxy-Lyases
  • arginine decarboxylase