Hypoxia-induced pulmonary vascular remodeling and right ventricular hypertrophy is unaltered by long-term oral L-arginine administration.
Previously, our laboratory found that pulmonary hypertension developed and lung nitric oxide (NO) production was reduced when piglets were exposed to chronic hypoxia (Fike CD, Kaplowitz MR, Thomas CJ, and Nelin LD. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 274: L517-L526, 1998). The purposes of this study were to determine whether L-arginine addition augments NO production and to evaluate whether L-arginine uptake is impaired in isolated lungs of chronically hypoxic newborn piglets. Studies were performed by using 1- to 3-day-old piglets raised in room air (control) or 10% O(2) (chronic hypoxia) for 10-12 days. Lung NO production was assessed in isolated lungs from both groups by measuring the perfusate accumulation of nitrites and nitrates (collectively termed NO(-)(x)) before and after addition of L-arginine (10(-2) M) to the perfusate. The rate of perfusate NO(-)(x) accumulation increased by 220% (from 0.8 +/- 0.4 to 2.5 +/- 0.5 nmol/min, P < 0.05) after L-arginine addition to chronic hypoxic lungs but remained unchanged (3.2 +/- 0. 8 before vs. 3.3 +/- 0.4 nmol/min after L-arginine) in control lungs. In the second series of studies, L-arginine uptake was evaluated by measuring the perfusate concentration of L-[(3)H]arginine at fixed time intervals. The perfusate concentration of L-[(3)H]arginine at each time point was less (P < 0.05) in control than in chronic hypoxic lungs. Thus L-arginine uptake was impaired and may underlie in part the reduction in lung NO production that occurs when piglets are exposed to 10-12 days of chronic hypoxia. Moreover, these findings in isolated lungs lead to the possibility that L-arginine supplementation might increase in vivo lung NO production in piglets with chronic hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension.