Long-term dietary supplementation with L-arginine prevents age-related reduction in renal function

Jane F. Reckelhoff, Joseph A. Kellum, Lorraine C. Racusen, Drew A. Hildebrandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aging is associated with loss of nephron function and reductions in serum L-arginine and excretion of nitric oxide (NO) metabolites. The present study was performed to determine if long-term dietary treatment with L- arginine, the NO synthase substrate, could prevent age-related renal injury. Studies were performed in four groups of rats, aged 12-13 mo, for 8 mo: group 1 received L-arginine (2% in 2.5% corn syrup, n = 5); group 2 received sodium nitrite, an NO donor (0.1%, in 2.5% syrup, n = 7); group 3 was an untreated control group (n = 7); group 4 was treated with 2.5% corn syrup (n = 5). Urinary protein increased and urinary nitrate/nitrite decreased with age in controls, but, during L-arginine treatment, urinary protein decreased and nitrate/nitrite increased. Two weeks after L-arginine was stopped, urinary protein had increased and nitrate/nitrite had decreased to the same level as in controls. L-Arginine treatment increased glomerular filtration rate (GFR) by 50% compared with untreated controls. In contrast, nitrite had no effect on GFR. Morphologically, L-arginine protected against aging injury by reducing the number of sclerotic glomeruli. In summary, we found that L- arginine prevented the age-related glomerular injury and reduction in GFR. The mechanism of protection, however, may be independent of NO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1768-R1774
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6 41-6
StatePublished - 1997


  • glomerular filtration rate
  • glomerular sclerosis
  • nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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