Influence of systemic arginine-lysine on immune organ function: an electrophysiological study

Brain Res Bull. 1998 Mar 15;45(5):437-41. doi: 10.1016/s0361-9230(97)00349-3.


To test our hypothesis that arginine (Arg) and lysine (Lys) enhance immune activities via neuronal control of the thymus and the spleen, a jugular vein was cannulated for amino acid administration in male Wistar rats (approximately 300 g). In one group (n = 5), an efferent nerve filament of the vagal thymus was isolated. In another group (n = 5), splenic nerve efferents were isolated. Efferent firing rates were recorded before and for 60-90 minutes after 10 mM Arg-Lys in 0.5 ml saline intravenously (i.v.). Differences in firing rates were evaluated using analysis of variance (ANOVA) and t-test. I.v. Arg-Lys increased vagal efferent firing rate to the thymus; enhancing thymic lymphocyte release. I.v. Arg-Lys decreased firing rate in splenic efferents; enhancing natural killer (NK) cell activity. Therefore, Arg-Lys are detected by hepatoportal sensors, stimulating hepatic vagal afferents to the hypothalamus, with the efferent neuronal impulses from the hypothalamus modulating immune function in thymus and spleen, thereby demonstrating the mechanism of Arg and Lys immune enhancing activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginine / pharmacology*
  • Dipeptides / pharmacology*
  • Efferent Pathways / drug effects
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Electrophysiology / methods
  • Liver / innervation
  • Lysine / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Spleen / drug effects
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Spleen / innervation*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / drug effects
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology
  • Thymus Gland / drug effects
  • Thymus Gland / immunology
  • Thymus Gland / innervation*
  • Vagotomy
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology


  • Dipeptides
  • arginyllysine
  • Arginine
  • Lysine