The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of increased arginine levels in intravenous hyperalimentation (IVH) therapy on wound healing and thymic immune function. Groups of SD rats, 275-325 g, underwent placement of internal jugular catheter, 7-cm dorsal skin wounding, insertion of polyvinyl alcohol sponges subcutaneously, and closure of wounds with stainless-steel sutures. Twenty-four hours later, rats were started on IVH at a rate of 0.8-1 ml/100 g body wt/hr. All IVH solutions contained 20% dextrose, adequate amounts of minerals and vitamins, and two different amino acid mixtures: (A) Fre III (4.05 g ARG/liter) (n = 13); (B) experimental (7.50 g ARG/liter) (n = 11). Solutions were isonitrogenous, and contained similar amounts of essential amino acids. After 7 days of IVH, weight gain did not differ between the two groups; however, cumulative N balance was superior in group A. Wound healing was improved in group B as assessed by fresh wound strip breaking strength, fixed breaking strength, and the amount of reparative collagen deposition as assessed by the hydroxyproline content of the implanted sponges. Group B animals also had improved thymic function as assessed by thymic weight, the total number of thymic lymphocytes/gland and mitogenic reactivity of thymic lymphocytes to PHA and Con A. The experiments indicate that high arginine levels in IVH solutions improve wound healing and thymic immune function following injury.
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