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In shock, organ perfusion is of vital importance because organ oxygenation is at risk. NO, the main endothelial-derived vasodilator, is crucial for organ perfusion and coronary patency. The availability of NO might depend on the balance between a substrate (arginine) and an inhibitor (asymmetric dimethylarginine; ADMA) of NO synthase. Therefore, we investigated the relationship of arginine, ADMA and their ratio with circulatory markers, disease severity, organ failure and mortality in shock patients. In forty-four patients with shock (cardiogenic n 17, septic n 27), we prospectively measured plasma arginine and ADMA at intensive care unit admission, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II-(predicted mortality) and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score, and circulatory markers to investigate their relationship. Arginine concentration was decreased (34·6 (sd 17·9) μmol/l) while ADMA concentration was within the normal range (0·46 (sd 0·18) μmol/l), resulting in a decrease in the arginine:ADMA ratio. The ratio correlated with several circulatory markers (cardiac index, disseminated intravascular coagulation, bicarbonate, lactate and pH), APACHE II and SOFA score, creatine kinase and glucose. The arginine:ADMA ratio showed an association (OR 0·976, 95 % CI 0·963, 0·997, P = 0·025) and a diagnostic accuracy (area under the curve 0·721, 95 % CI 0·560, 0·882, P = 0·016) for hospital mortality, whereas the arginine or ADMA concentration alone or APACHE II-predicted mortality failed to do so. In conclusion, in shock patients, the imbalance of arginine and ADMA is related to circulatory failure, organ failure and disease severity, and predicts mortality. We propose a pathophysiological mechanism in shock: the imbalance of arginine and ADMA contributes to endothelial and cardiac dysfunction resulting in poor organ perfusion and organ failure, thereby increasing the risk of death.
Several studies have described reduced plasma concentrations of arginine, the substrate for nitric oxide synthase (NOS) in infants with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). No information on the plasma concentrations of the endogenous NOS inhibitor asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) in patients with NEC is currently available. We investigated whether plasma concentrations of arginine, ADMA, and their ratio differ between premature infants with and without NEC, and between survivors and non-survivors within the NEC group. In a prospective case–control study, arginine and ADMA concentrations were measured in ten premature infants with NEC (median gestational age 193 d, birth weight 968 g), and ten matched control infants (median gestational age 201 d, birth weight 1102 g), who were admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In the premature infants with NEC, median arginine and ADMA concentrations (μmol/l), and the arginine:ADMA ratio were lower compared to the infants without NEC: 21·4 v. 55·9, P = 0·001; 0·59 v. 0·85, P = 0·009 and 36·6 v. 72·3, P = 0·023 respectively. In the NEC group, median arginine (μmol/l) and the arginine:ADMA ratio were lower in non-surviving infants than in surviving infants: 14·7 v. 33·8, P = 0·01 and 32·0 v. 47·5, P = 0·038 respectively. In premature infants with NEC not only the NOS substrate arginine, but also the endogenous NOS inhibitor ADMA and the arginine:ADMA ratio were lower than in infants without NEC. In addition, low arginine and arginine:ADMA were associated with mortality in infants with NEC. Overall, these data suggest that a diminished nitric oxide production may be involved in the pathophysiology of NEC, but this needs further investigation.
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