Metabolic effects of arginine in a healthy elderly population


Hurson M, Regan MC, Kirk SJ , Wasserkrug HL, Barbul A




JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr


Recently there has been much interest in the use of arginine to stimulate immune responses and to promote wound healing. In the present study, the effect of an oral supplementation with arginine on the metabolism of 45 healthy, nonsmoking, elderly volunteers was investigated. Subjects were divided into two groups that received either arginine aspartate (17 g free arginine) (n = 30) or a placebo (n = 15). The supplements were taken for a period of 14 days. Dietary intake of food was not controlled. Blood chemistry, lipid profiles, and as an index of nutritional status, serum insulin-like growth factor-1 levels and nitrogen balance were compared before and after supplementation. Two weeks of arginine supplementation led to a significant elevation of serum insulin-like growth factor concentrations and an improved and positive nitrogen balance (2.0 +/- 0.41 g N) when compared with controls (0.11 +/- 0.47 g N; p = 0.0114). In addition the arginine-supplemented group demonstrated a decreased total serum cholesterol with a reduction in the low-density lipoprotein but not the high-density lipoprotein fraction resulting in a increase in the ratio of low- to high-density lipoprotein fraction. No adverse effects were observed at this dosage of arginine. The data suggest that oral arginine supplementation may be used safely in elderly humans.

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