L-arginine: A unique amino acid for improving depressed wound immune function following hemorrhage

Martin K. Angele, Stefan M. Nitsch, Rudolf A. Hatz, Peter Angele, Thomas Hernandez-Richter, Mathias W. Wichmann, Irshad H. Chaudry, Friedrich W. Schildberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To determine whether L-arginine has any salutary effects on wound immune cell function following trauma-hemorrhage. Background: Depressed wound immune function contributes to an increased incidence of wound infections following hemorrhage. Although administration of L-arginine has been shown to restore depressed cell-mediated immune responses following hemorrhage potentially by maintaining organ blood flow, it remains unknown whether L-arginine has any salutary effects on the depressed local immune response at the wound site. Methods: Male mice were subjected to a midline laparotomy and polyvinyl sponges were implanted subcutaneously in the abdominal wound prior to hemorrhage (35 ± 5 mm Hg for 90 min and resuscitation) or sham operation. During resuscitation mice received 300 mg/kg body weight L-arginine or saline (vehicle). Sponges were harvested 24 h thereafter, wound fluid collected and wound immune cells cultured for 24 h in the presence of LPS. Pro- (IL-1β, IL-6) and anti-inflammatory (IL-10) cytokines were determined in the supernatants and the wound fluid. In addition, wounds were stained for IL-6 immunohistochemically. In a separate set of animals, skin and muscle blood flow was determined by microspheres. Results: The capacity of wound immune cells to release IL-1β and IL-6 in vitro was significantly depressed in hemorrhaged mice receiving vehicle. Administration of L-arginine, however, improved wound immune cell function. In contrast, in vivo the increased IL-6 release at the wound site was decreased in L-arginine-treated mice following hemorrhage. Moreover, IL-10 levels were significantly increased in the wound fluid in hemorrhaged animals receiving L-arginine compared to vehicle-treated mice. In addition, the depressed skin and muscle blood flow after hemorrhage was restored by L-arginine. Conclusions: Thus, L-arginine might improve local wound cell function by decreasing the inflammatory response at the wound site. Since L-arginine protected wound immune cell function this amino acid might represent a novel and useful adjunct to fluid resuscitation for decreasing wound complications following hemorrhage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-60
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Surgical Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Hemorrhagic shock
  • Immune depression
  • Organ blood flow
  • Wound exudate cells
  • Wound infection


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