For Patients & Caregivers
Arginine has not been shown to prevent or treat cancer in humans.
Arginine is an amino acid that is produced by the body. It has been used for various conditions such as high blood pressure, heart conditions, migraine headaches and erectile dysfunction. Arginine has also been shown in clinical studies to enhance wound healing, immune function and athletic performance.
Arginine supplementation has been studied in cancer patients. Postoperative enteral formulas enhanced with arginine may improve wound healing, enhance immune status, and reduce length of hospital stay.
Studies support the benefits of arginine for angina.
- Atherosclerosis (Hardening of blood vessel walls)
A few studies have shown that arginine may be effective for atherosclerosis.
- Wound healing
This use is supported by evidence from clinical trials.
- Immune stimulation
Arginine given in high doses may improve immune function cancer patients.
- Erectile dysfunction
Arginine has been shown in clinical trials to help improve sexual function in men.
- Migraine headache
When taken with ibuprofen, arginine increased pain relief in patients with migraine headaches.
- Type 2 Diabetes
Along with a low calorie diet and exercise, arginine may increase weight loss and improve insulin response in type 2 diabetic patients.
For Healthcare Professionals
Arginine is an amino acid that is synthesized in the body. Oral arginine has been used for various conditions such as hypertension, angina, atherosclerosis, migraine headache, and erectile dysfunction. Its vasodilatory properties are thought to be responsible for the beneficial effects. Arginine has also been used to enhance wound healing, immune function, and athletic performance.
Some studies support use of arginine in coronary artery and peripheral artery diseases (PADs) (10) (11) (12) (13); however, long term supplementation of arginine worsened PAD (14). Arginine along with antioxidant vitamins reduced the incidence of preeclampsia in high risk women (28). But arginine supplements did not improve blood pressure or kidney function in women with preeclampsia (15). Large doses of oral arginine improved subjective assessment of sexual function in men with organic erectile dysfunction (16). Arginine when combined with ibuprofen may increase pain relief in patients with migraine headaches (17). In addition, oral arginine has been studied for its effect on modifying or preventing the development of nitrate tolerance during continuous transdermal nitroglycerin therapy (18), and may enhance growth hormone release by inhibition of endogenous somatostatin (19). Arginine supplementation by enteral feeding was shown to decrease shock in severely burned patients (4).
Data from another trial suggest utility of arginine as an adjunctive therapy in patients with active tuberculosis (29).
Arginine supplementation has been studied in cancer patients. Postoperative enteral formulas enhanced with arginine may improve wound healing (1), enhance immune status (27), and reduce length of hospital stay (30).
Interestingly, arginine deprivation-based treatments are also being pursued as potential cancer treatments (31) (32).
Arginine is unique among amino acids for its vasodilatory properties (11). Arginine acts as a precursor for the synthesis of endogenous nitric oxide (NO) via the action of nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Nitric oxide’s functions as a paracrine-signaling molecule mediating vasodilation and inhibition of platelet activation, monocyte and leucocyte adhesion, and smooth muscle cell proliferation. Nitric oxide also helps to control vascular oxidative stress and redox-regulated gene expression (22). Arginine is also needed for the synthesis of creatine which is important in muscle contraction (22). In colorectal adenoma cells, arginine reduces the expression of survivin, an inhibitor of apoptosis, and induces iNOS expression (23).