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Diminished levels of L-arginine and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) uncoupling through deficiency of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH(4)) may contribute to endothelial dysfunction. We investigated the effect of L-arginine and BH(4) administration on ischemia-reperfusion (I/R)-induced endothelial dysfunction in patients with type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease (CAD). Forearm blood flow was measured by venous occlusion plethysmography in 12 patients with type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance and CAD. Forearm ischemia was induced for 20 min, followed by 60 min of reperfusion. The patients received a 15 min intra-brachial infusion of L-arginine (20 mg/min) and BH(4) (500 microg/min) or 0.9% saline starting at 15 min of ischemia on two separate study occasions. Compared with pre-ischemia the endothelium-dependent vasodilatation (EDV) induced by acetylcholine was significantly reduced at 15 and 30 min of reperfusion when saline was infused (P<0.001), but not following L-arginine and BH(4) infusion. EDV was also significantly less reduced at 15 and 30 min of reperfusion following L-arginine and BH(4) infusion, compared to saline infusion (P<0.02). Endothelium-independent vasodilatation (EIDV) induced by nitroprusside was unaffected by I/R. Venous total biopterin levels in the infused arm increased from 37+/-7 at baseline to 6644+/-1240 nmol/l during infusion of L-arginine and BH(4) (P<0.0001), whereas there was no difference in biopterin levels during saline infusion. In conclusion L-arginine and BH(4) supplementation reduces I/R-induced endothelial dysfunction, a finding which may represent a novel treatment strategy to limit I/R injury in patients with type 2 diabetes and CAD.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





73 - 78


Aged, Arginine, Biopterin, Blood Flow Velocity, Cardiovascular Agents, Coronary Artery Disease, Cross-Over Studies, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Drug Therapy, Combination, Endothelium, Vascular, Female, Forearm, Humans, Infusions, Intra-Arterial, Male, Regional Blood Flow, Reperfusion Injury, Treatment Outcome, Vasodilation, Vasodilator Agents