Transport of extracellular L-arginine via cationic amino acid transporter is required during in vivo endothelial nitric oxide production

Brett G. Zani, H. Glenn Bohlen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Scopus citations


In cultured endothelial cells, 70-95% of extracellular L-arginine uptake has been attributed to the cationic amino acid transporter-1 protein (CAT-1). We tested the hypothesis that extracellular L-arginine entry into endothelial cells via CAT-1 plays a crucial role in endothelial nitric oxide (NO) production during in vivo conditions. Using L-lysine, the preferred amino acid transported by CAT-1, we competitively inhibited extracellular L-arginine transport into endothelial cells during conditions of NaCl hyperosmolarity, low oxygen, and flow increase. Our prior studies indicate that each of these perturbations causes NO-dependent vasodilation. The perivascular NO concentration ([NO]) and blood flow were determined in the in vivo rat intestinal microvasculature. Suppression of extracellular L-arginine transport significantly and strongly inhibited increases in vascular [NO] and intestinal blood flow during NaCl hyperosmolarity, lowered oxygen tension, and increased flow. These results suggest that L-arginine from the extracellular space is accumulated by CAT-1. When CAT-1-mediated transport of extracellular L-arginine into endothelial cells was suppressed, the endothelial cell NO response to a wide range of physiological stimuli was strongly depressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1381-H1390
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4 58-4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2005



  • Arterioles
  • Blood flow
  • Hyperosmolarity
  • Intestine
  • L-lysine
  • Oxygen
  • Shear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

Cite this