Effect of l-arginine on energy metabolism, skeletal muscle and brown adipose tissue in South Asian and Europid prediabetic men: a randomised double-blinded crossover study

Mariette R. Boon*, Mark J. W. Hanssen, Boudewijn Brans, Cindy J. M. Hulsman, Joris Hoeks, Kimberly J. Nahon, Charlotte Bakker, Jan B. van Klinken, Bas Havekes, Gert Schaart, Ingrid M. Jazet, Patrick C. N. Rensen, Wouter D. van Marken Lichtenbelt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aims/hypothesisIndividuals of South Asian origin are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus and associated comorbidities compared with Europids. Disturbances in energy metabolism may contribute to this increased risk. Skeletal muscle and possibly also brown adipose tissue (BAT) are involved in human energy metabolism and nitric oxide (NO) is suggested to play a pivotal role in regulating mitochondrial biogenesis in both tissues. We aimed to investigate the effects of 6weeks of supplementation with l-arginine, a precursor of NO, on energy metabolism by BAT and skeletal muscle, as well as glucose metabolism in South Asian men compared with men of European descent.MethodsWe included ten Dutch South Asian men (age 46.52.8years, BMI 30.11.1kg/m(2)) and ten Dutch men of European descent, that were similar with respect to age and BMI, with prediabetes (fasting plasma glucose level 5.6-6.9mmol/l or plasma glucose levels 2h after an OGTT 7.8-11.1mmol/l). Participants took either l-arginine (9g/day) or placebo orally for 6weeks in a randomised double-blind crossover study. Participants were eligible to participate in the study when they were aged between 40 and 55years, had a BMI between 25 and 35kg/m(2) and did not have type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, ethnicity was defined as having four grandparents of South Asian or white European origin, respectively. Blinding of treatment was done by the pharmacy (Hankintatukku) and an independent researcher from Leiden University Medical Center randomly assigned treatments by providing a coded list. All people involved in the study as well as participants were blinded to group assignment. After each intervention, glucose tolerance was determined by OGTT and basal metabolic rate (BMR) was determined by indirect calorimetry; BAT activity was assessed by cold-induced [F-18]fluorodeoxyglucose ([F-18]FDG) positron emission tomography-computed tomography scanning. In addition, a fasting skeletal muscle biopsy was taken and analysed ex vivo for respiratory capacity using a multisubstrate protocol. The primary study endpoint was the effect of l-arginine on BAT volume and activity.Resultsl-Arginine did not affect BMR, [F-18]FDG uptake by BAT or skeletal muscle respiration in either ethnicity. During OGTT, l-arginine lowered plasma glucose concentrations (AUC(0-2 h)-9%, p

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-122
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • Brown adipose tissue
  • l-Arginine
  • Nitric oxide
  • Skeletal muscle
  • South Asian
  • DIET
  • FAT

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