BACKGROUNDDysregulation of l-arginine metabolism has been proposed to occur in patients with severe asthma. The effects of l-arginine supplementation on l-arginine metabolite profiles in these patients are unknown. We hypothesized that individuals with severe asthma with low fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) would have fewer exacerbations with the addition of l-arginine to their standard asthma medications compared with placebo and would demonstrate the greatest changes in metabolite profiles.METHODSParticipants were enrolled in a single-center, crossover, double-blind l-arginine intervention trial at UCD. Subjects received placebo or l-arginine, dosed orally at 0.05 mg/kg (ideal body weight) twice daily. The primary end point was moderate asthma exacerbations. Longitudinal plasma metabolite levels were measured using mass spectrometry. A linear mixed-effect model with subject-specific intercepts was used for testing treatment effects.RESULTSA cohort of 50 subjects was included in the final analysis. l-Arginine did not significantly decrease asthma exacerbations in the overall cohort. Higher citrulline levels and a lower arginine availability index (AAI) were associated with higher FeNO (P = 0.005 and P = 2.51 × 10-9, respectively). Higher AAI was associated with lower exacerbation events. The eicosanoid prostaglandin H2 (PGH2) and Nα-acetyl-l-arginine were found to be good predictors for differentiating clinical responders and nonresponders.CONCLUSIONSThere was no statistically significant decrease in asthma exacerbations in the overall cohort with l-arginine intervention. PGH2, Nα-acetyl-l-arginine, and the AAI could serve as predictive biomarkers in future clinical trials that intervene in the arginine metabolome.TRIAL REGISTRATIONClinicalTrials.gov NCT01841281.FUNDINGThis study was supported by NIH grants R01HL105573, DK097154, UL1 TR001861, and K08HL114882. Metabolomics analysis was supported in part by a grant from the University of California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program program (TRDRP).
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