L-arginine enhances aerobic exercise capacity in association with augmented nitric oxide production

Andrew J. Maxwell, Hoai Ky V. Ho, Christine Q. Le, Patrick S. Lin, Daniel Bernstein, John P. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


We tested whether supplementation with L-arginine can augment aerobic capacity, particularly in conditions where endothelium-derived nitric oxide (EDNO) activity is reduced. Eight-week-old wild-type (E+) and apolipoprotein E-deficient mice (E-) were divided into six groups; two groups (LE+ and LE-) were given L-arginine (6% in drinking water), two were given D-arginine (DE+ and DE-), and two control groups (NE+ and NE-) received no arginine supplementation. At 12-16 wk of age, the mice were treadmill tested, and urine was collected after exercise for determination of EDNO production. NE- mice demonstrated a reduced aerobic capacity compared with NE+ controls [maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) of NE- = 110 ± 2 (SE) vs. NE+ = 122 ± 3 ml O2 · min-1 · kg-1, P < 0.001]. This decline in aerobic capacity was associated with a diminished postexercise urinary nitrate excretion. Mice given L-arginine demonstrated an increase in postexercise urinary nitrate excretion and aerobic capacity in both groups (VO2 max of LE- = 120 ± 1 ml O2 · min-1 · kg-1, P < 0.05 vs. NE-; VO2 max of LE+ = 133 ± 4 ml O2 · min-1· kg-1, P < 0.01 vs. NE+). Mice administered D-arginine demonstrated an intermediate increase in aerobic capacity in both groups. We conclude that administration of L-arginine restores exercise-induced EDNO synthesis and normalizes aerobic capacity in hypercholesterolemic mice. In normal mice, L-arginine enhances exercise-induced EDNO synthesis and aerobic capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-938
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Apolipoprotein E knockout
  • D-arginine
  • Endothelium-derived relaxing factor
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Oxygen uptake
  • Vascular reactivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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