Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA): A novel risk factor for endothelial dysfunction: Its role in hypercholesterolemia

Rainer H. Böger, Stefanie M. Bode-Böger, Andrzej Szuba, Philip S. Tsao, Jason R. Chan, Oranee Tangphao, Terrence F. Blaschke, John P. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1101 Scopus citations


Background - Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) is an endogenous competitive inhibitor of nitric oxide (NO) synthase. Because endothelial NO elaboration is impaired in hypercholesterolemia, we investigated whether plasma concentrations of ADMA are elevated in young, clinically asymptomatic hypercholesterolemic adults. We further studied whether such elevation of ADMA levels was correlated with impaired endothelium-dependent, NO-mediated vasodilation and urinary nitrate excretion. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, we investigated whether these changes could be reversed with exogenous L-arginine. Methods and Results - We measured plasma levels of L-arginine, ADMA, and symmetrical dimethylarginine (SDMA) by high- performance liquid chromatography in 49 hypercholesterolemic (HC) and 31 normocholesterolemic (NC) humans. In 8 HC subjects, endothelium-dependent forearm vasodilation was assessed before and after an intravenous infusion of L-arginine or placebo and compared with 8 NC control subjects. ADMA levels were significantly elevated by > 100% (2.17 ± 0.15 versus 1.03 ± 0.09 μmol/L; P < 0.05) in HC subjects compared with NC adults. L-Arginine levels were similar, resulting in a significantly decreased L-arginine/ADMA ratio in HC subjects (27.7 ± 2.4 versus 55.7 ± 5.4; P < 0.05). In 8 HC subjects, intravenous infusion of L-arginine significantly increased the L- arginine/ADMA ratio and normalized endothelium-dependent vasodilation and urinary nitrate excretion. ADMA levels were inversely correlated with endothelium-mediated vasodilation (R = 0.762, P < 0.01) and urinary nitrate excretion rates (R = 0.534, P < 0.01). Conclusions - We find that ADMA is elevated in young HC individuals. Elevation of ADMA is associated with impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilation and reduced urinary nitrate excretion. This abnormality is reversed by administration of L-arginine. ADMA may be a novel risk factor for endothelial dysfunction in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1842-1847
Number of pages6
Issue number18
StatePublished - Nov 3 1998


  • Asymmetric dimethylarginine
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Endothelium- derived factors
  • Nitric oxide
  • Vasodilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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