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BACKGROUND: Smoking is associated with endothelial dysfunction and increased inflammatory status. The amino acid L-arginine, improves endothelial function in patients with cardiovascular risk factors. We investigated the effect of L-arginine on vascular function and inflammatory process in healthy smokers at rest and after acute smoking. METHODS: We studied the effect of L-arginine and/or placebo in 12 healthy young smokers on three occasions (day 0, day 1, and day 3). The study was carried out on two separate arms, one with L-arginine (3 x 7 g/day) and one with placebo, according to a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over design. Measurements were carried out before, immediately after, and 20 min after cigarette smoking. Endothelial function was evaluated by flow-mediated dilation (FMD). Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) was measured as an index of aortic stiffness and augmentation index (AIx) and as a measure of arterial wave reflections. Serum soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) was measured. RESULTS: Compared to placebo, L-arginine improved FMD (P < 0.01 at day 1 and P < 0.05 at day 3). L-Arginine reduced PWV and AIx at both days 1 and 3 (P < 0.05 vs. baseline). L-Arginine blunted the acute smoking-induced increase of AIx at both day 1 (P < 0.05) and day 3 (P < 0.01), and prevented the smoking-induced elevation of PWV at day 3 (P < 0.05). Importantly, L-arginine reduced sICAM-1 at days 1 and 3 (P < 0.05 for both vs. baseline). CONCLUSIONS: Oral L-arginine improves endothelial function and vascular elastic properties of the arterial tree during the acute phase of smoking, an effect accompanied by reduced sICAM-1 levels in these subjects.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Hypertens

Publication Date





586 - 592


Administration, Oral, Adult, Arginine, Brachial Artery, Cross-Over Studies, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Double-Blind Method, Endothelium, Vascular, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Male, Peripheral Vascular Diseases, Reference Values, Smoking, Treatment Outcome, Ultrasonography, Doppler, Duplex, Vasoconstriction, Young Adult