Rescue treatment with L-citrulline inhibits hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension in newborn pigs

Candice D. Fike, Anna Dikalova, Mark R. Kaplowitz, Gary Cunningham, Marshall Summar, Judy L. Aschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Infants with cardiopulmonary disorders associated with hypoxia develop pulmonary hypertension. We previously showed that initiation of oral L-citrulline before and continued throughout hypoxic exposure improves nitric oxide (NO) production and ameliorates pulmonary hypertension in newborn piglets. Rescue treatments, initiated after the onset of pulmonary hypertension, better approximate clinical strategies. Mechanisms by which Lcitrulline improves NO production merit elucidation. The objective of this study was to determine whether starting L-citrulline after the onset of pulmonary hypertension inhibits disease progression and improves NO production by recoupling endothelial NO synthase (eNOS). Hypoxic and normoxic (control) piglets were studied. Some hypoxic piglets received oral L-citrulline starting on Day 3 of hypoxia and continuing throughout the remaining 7 days of hypoxic exposure. Catheters were placed for hemodynamic measurements, and pulmonary arteries were dissected to assess NO production and eNOS dimer-to-monomer ratios (a measure of eNOS coupling). Pulmonary vascular resistance was lower in L-citrulline-treated hypoxic piglets than in untreated hypoxic piglets but was higher than in normoxic controls.NOproduction and eNOS dimer-to-monomer ratios were greater in pulmonary arteries from L-citrulline-treated than from untreated hypoxic animals but were lower than in normoxic controls. When started after disease onset, oral L-citrulline treatment improvesNOproduction by recoupling eNOS and inhibits the further development of chronic hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension in newborn piglets. Oral L-citrulline may be a novel strategy to halt or reverse pulmonary hypertension in infants suffering from cardiopulmonary conditions associated with hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-264
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Nitric oxide signaling
  • Superoxide
  • Uncoupled eNOS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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