Background: Arginine metabolites are associated with cardiovascular and all-cause mortality in several patient groups. We investigated whether arginine metabolites are associated with mortality in patients with critical illness and whether associations are independent of other factors affecting prognosis in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Methods: 1155 acutely unwell adult patients admitted to a mixed medical-surgical ICU were studied. Arginine, asymmetric dimethyl-L-arginine (ADMA), monomethyl-L-arginine (MMA), symmetric dimethyl-L-arginine (SDMA) and L-homoarginine were measured in a plasma sample collected at admission to ICU by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Risk of death score was calculated using data submitted to the Australia and New Zealand Intensive Care Society. Results: In this cohort, 163 patients (14.1%) died. ADMA (odds ratio = 1.159 (1.033–1.300) per 0.1 μmol/L increment, p = 0.012), homoarginine (odds ratio = 0.963 (0.934–0.992), p = 0.013) and risk of death score (odds ratio = 1.045 (1.037–1.053) per 1% increment, p < 0.001) were independently associated with mortality in ICU patients. The area under the receiver operator characteristic curve for risk of death score, ADMA and homoarginine combined for mortality was greater than for risk of death score alone (0.815 (95% CI 0.790–0.837) vs 0.796 (95% CI 0.781–0.820), p = 0.019). Other arginine metabolites were not independently associated with mortality. Conclusions: ADMA is positively and homoarginine negatively associated with mortality in ICU patients, independent of other clinical factors. Measuring ADMA and homoarginine may refine models to predict ICU mortality. Reducing ADMA and increasing homoarginine are potential therapeutic targets to reduce mortality in critically ill patients.
- Acute physiology and chronic health evaluation
- Asymmetric dimethylarginine
- Critical care
- In-hospital mortality