Journal of human hypertension

Ethnicity-specific differences in L-arginine status in South African men.

PMID 22129611


The aetiology for an increasing incidence of hypertensive cardiovascular disease amongst Africans in southern Africa is unclear. Hypertension may be induced by inadequate release of L-arginine-derived nitric oxide impairing vascular tone regulation. In addition, asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) is associated with cardiovascular disease. We compared profiles of L-arginine in African and Caucasian men of similar age with cardiovascular risk factors. We studied 163 Caucasian and 132 African men, respectively, (20 to 70 years) measuring serum L-arginine, ADMA, creatinine, urea, symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) and blood pressure. L-arginine levels were significantly lower, whereas blood pressure and pulse wave velocity were significantly higher in African men. Simple linear regression showed ADMA more strongly associated with L-arginine in Caucasians (r=0.59 vs 0.19), whereas association of SDMA with L-arginine was significant only in Caucasians (r=0.43 vs 0.001). The stronger association of L-arginine with ADMA in Caucasian men was confirmed by multiple regression analysis (β=0.46 vs 0.25).Our findings show that the relationship of cardiovascular risk factors with serum L-arginine and some of its catabolites is different in African and Caucasian men and that this may be associated with a relatively higher prevalence of hypertension in African men.