Hypoargininemia exacerbates airway hyperresponsiveness in a mouse model of asthma

Roy H. E. Cloots, Matthew E. Poynter, Els Terwindt, Wouter H. Lamers, S. Eleonore Kohler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition, with airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and inflammation as hallmarks. The hypothesis that the substantially increased expression of arginase 1 in activated macrophages limits the availability of L-arginine for nitric oxide synthesis, and thus increases AHR in lungs of mice with experimentally induced allergic asthma was recently refuted by several studies. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that, instead, a low circulating concentration of arginine aggravates AHR in the same murine asthma model. Female FVB F/A2(tg/tg) transgenic mice, which overexpress rat arginase 1 in their enterocytes, exhibit a similar to 50% decrease of their plasma L-arginine concentration.

Methods: Adult female F/A2(tg/tg) mice and their wild-type littermates (F/A2(wt/wt)) were sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin (OVA/OVA). Lung function was assessed with the flexiVent (TM) system. Adaptive changes in the expression of arginine-metabolizing or -transporting enzymes, chemokines and cytokines, and lung histology were quantified with qPCR, ELISA, and immunohistochemistry, respectively.

Results: Reduction of circulating L-arginine concentration significantly increased AHR in OVA/OVA-treated mice and, to a lesser extent, even in PBS/OVA-treated mice. The pulmonary inflammatory response in OVA/OVA-treated F/A2(tg/tg) and F/A2(wt/wt) mice was comparable. OVA/OVA-treated F/A2(tg/tg) mice differed from similarly treated female mice, in which arginase 1 expression in lung macrophages was eliminated, by a complete absence of an adaptive increase in the expression of arginine-metabolizing or -transporting enzymes.

Conclusion: A reduction of the circulating L-arginine concentration rather than the macrophage-mediated increase of arginine catabolism worsens AHR.

Original languageEnglish
Article number98
Number of pages12
JournalRespiratory Research
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2018


  • Arginine availability
  • Lung function
  • Transgenes
  • Pulmonary inflammation
  • MICE

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