|Volume 6 Issue 197 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 15-Jul-2004 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 16-Jul-2004||Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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Vital amino acid levels lower in asthmatics
Researchers have revealed that patients with asthma, when compared to normal controls without the disease, had much lower levels of plasma arginine, an amino acid that produces nitric oxide (NO) through enzymatic activity in the body.
Recently, investigators have come to believe that NO deficiency plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of asthma. The biomedical scientists in this study measured amino acid levels and nitric oxide metabolites in the blood of 26 patients with asthma who were in varying stages of disease exacerbation.
The researchers pointed out that NO is an important vasodilator of the bronchial circulation, with both bronchodilatory and anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, today, exhaled NO is widely regarded as a marker of airway inflammation in both children and adults with asthma.
In their study, the investigators revealed that reductions occurred in plasma levels of many amino acids in asthma patients with acute exacerbations. However, the greatest decrease came in plasma levels of arginine, which measured approximately one-half the amount found in normal control subjects.
They believe that their findings have significant clinical relevance and represent a new focus for asthma research. The study appears in the second issue for July 2004 of the American Thoracic Society's peer-reviewed American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.