L-arginine: a novel therapy for coronary artery disease?
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Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality today. The treatment of CAD is improving, but its prevalence is increasing: both primary and secondary prevention measures are of vital importance. Atherosclerosis starts at an early age; it is initiated at the vascular endothelium level, a single layer entity that modulates vascular function. Modulation of vascular function is carried out through the L-arginine/nitric oxide (NO) pathway. Normal endothelial function requires an intact L-arginine/NO pathway and endothelium. Endothelial dysfunction may be a precursor to overt CAD. CAD risk factors have been shown to influence endothelial function, and the treatment of these risk factors can restore endothelial function. L-Arginine is a safe, novel, semiessential amino acid that increases NO production, thereby improving endothelial function. L-Arginine/NO has numerous beneficial neurohormonal modulating properties. Numerous animal model and human studies have been carried out to assess L-arginine in CAD and other related disorders such as congestive heart failure (CHF), peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Prospective clinical trials are required to assess the promising role of L-arginine in CAD and related disorders
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