This study aimed at evaluating whether increased availability of the natural precursor of nitric oxide, L-arginine, could influence systemic hemodynamic and rheologic parameters in humans and whether the effects of L-arginine are mediated by endogenous insulin. 10 healthy young subjects participated in the following studies: study I, infusion of L-arginine (1 g/min for 30 min); study II, infusion of L-arginine plus octreotide (25 microg as i.v. bolus + 0.5 microg/min) to block endogenous insulin and glucagon secretion, plus replacement of basal insulin and glucagon; study III, infusion of L-arginine plus octreotide plus basal glucagon plus an insulin infusion designed to mimic the insulin response of study I. L-Arginine infusion significantly reduced systolic (11+/-3, mean+/-SE) and diastolic (8+/-2 mmHg, P < 0.001) blood pressure, platelet aggregation (20+/-4%), and blood viscosity (1.6+/-0.2 centipois, P < 0.01), and increased leg blood flow (97+/-16 ml/min), heart rate, and plasma catecholamine levels (P < 0.01). In study II, plasma insulin levels remained suppressed at baseline; in this condition, the vascular responses to L-arginine were significantly reduced, except for plasma catecholamines which did not change significantly. In study III, the plasma insulin response to L-arginine was reestablished; this was associated with hemodynamic and rheologic changes following L-arginine not significantly different from those recorded in study I. These findings show that systemic infusion of L-arginine in healthy subjects induces vasodilation and inhibits platelet aggregation and blood viscosity. These effects are mediated, in part, by endogenous released insulin.
D Giugliano, R Marfella, G Verrazzo, R Acampora, L Coppola, D Cozzolino, F D'Onofrio