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Keywords:

  • hypercholesterolemia;
  • hyperlipidemia;
  • L-arginine;
  • L-citrulline;
  • rat;
  • aorta

The aim of the present study is to investigate the potential role of L-arginine or L-citrulline in rats fed high-fat and high-cholesterol (HFC) diet. HFC feeding increased significantly serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activities, urea and all lipid profiles and decreased significantly serum high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-c) and non significantly serum nitric oxide levels. L-arginine or L-citrulline administration reversed the increase in serum AST and ALT activities, urea and all lipid profiles. These effects were associated with a concomitant increase in HDL-c and nitric oxide levels. In general, rats fed HFC diet and orally treated with L-arginine or L-citrulline had higher relative percentage of 18 : 0, 20 : 0 and 22 : 6 and lower 16 : 0 fatty acids than rats fed HFC diet. Light and transmission electron microscopic findings of the thoracic aorta confirmed the biochemical results and demonstrated structural changes in the endothelial cells of the intimal layer, medial smooth muscle cells as well as in the adventitial layer in HFC fed-animals. However, these findings indicate little structural alterations in animals supplemented with L-arginine or L-citrulline along with HFC feeding. In the present study, L-arginine or L-citrulline was effective hypocholesterolemic and hypolipidemic agents in rats. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.