Arginine and wound healing metabolism

Arginine is considered an essential amino acid under periods of severe stress. In 1976 Seifter, Barbul, Rettura, and Levenson first studied the role of arginine in injured animals. This was based on the rationale that a growing animal requires more arginine than a mature animal. In the growing animal, much of the arginine is used for the synthesis of connective tissue proteins. In the injured animal, an increase in arginine would be expected to synthesize reparative connective tissue. When subjected to minor trauma, such as dorsal skin incision and closure, rats have shown increased postoperative weight loss and increased mortality compared to rats fed a similar defined diet containing arginine. Furthermore, the arginine deficiency results in decreased wound breaking strength and wound collagen accumulation. Subsequent experiments showed that rats fed a chow diet, not deficient in arginine, and additionally supplemented with 1% arginine also have enhanced wound breaking strength and collagen synthesis when compared to chow-fed controls (Figure 6.2). Similar findings were noted in parenterally fed rats given an amino acid mixture containing high doses (7.5 g/l) of arginine in rats. This effect was observed in elderly rats fed a diet supplemented with a combination of both arginine and glycine. It was noted that these rats had an enhanced rate of wound collagen deposition when compared to controls.5

Two studies have been done so far on the effect of arginine supplementation on collagen accumulation in healthy human subjects (Figure 6.3). A micromodel was

P factor < .001 unless otherwise noted as < .005.

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