Uptake and synthesis of arginine

Arginine is actively absorbed from the gut via a sodium-dependent transport mechanism. High arginase activity within enterocytes converts 40% of dietary

  • CAB International 2002. Nutrition and Immune Function
  • eds P.C. Calder, C.J. Field and H.S. Gill) 93

Citrulline

nH ch2

hcNh2

COOH

Arginine

cH2 cH2

hcNh2

COOH

Ornithine

CH2 NH2

cH2 cH2

HCNH2 COOH

Fig. 5.1. The structures of citrulline, arginine and ornithine.

arginine to citrulline, which is released into the circulation (Castillo et al., 1993). Of the arginine reaching the portal venous blood, 15% is cleared by the liver; the remainder enters the systemic circulation (O'Sullivan et al., 1998). Dietary glutamine and glutamate can also be used by enterocytes to generate citrulline.

Arginine is synthesized from citrulline, primarily in the kidney, and is then released into the circulation to be taken up and used by other tissues. While arginine is also generated in large quantities by the liver, this arginine is recycled by the urea cycle within the hepatocyte, with little net production (Rabier et al., 1991).

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