Arginine physiology and its implication for wound healing


Reprint requests: Adrian Barbul, MD, Department of Surgery, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, 2401 W. Belvedere Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215. Fax: (410) 601-5835; Email:


Arginine is a basic amino acid that plays several pivotal roles in cellular physiology. Like any amino acid, it is involved with protein synthesis, but it is also intimately involved with cell signaling through the production of nitric oxide and cell proliferation through its metabolism to ornithine and the other polyamines. Because of these multiple functions, arginine is an essential substrate for wound healing processes. Numerous studies have shown that arginine supplementation can lead to normalization or improvement of healing. This article reviews the basic biochemistry and cell signaling within which arginine performs its functions. In particular, the requirement for this amino acid in tissue repair is highlighted. (WOUND REP REG 2003;11:419–423)