The Safety of Arginine in the Critically Ill Patient: What Does the Current Literature Show?

Maria Isabel Toulson Davisson Correia, Robert G. Martindale

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Arginine, a semi-essential amino acid, is found to decrease under several conditions of critical illness, either due to decreased intake, mucosal absorption or de novo synthesis, and/or concomitantly increased demand. Under stressful situations, several metabolic, inflammatory, and immunological pathways are also triggered, impacting how nutrients may be utilized. In particular, arginine may be degraded by arginase or nitric oxide synthase, leading to different end products which per se influence the patient’s hemodynamic status and response to pathogens. Furthermore, the critically ill patient undergoes a variety of insults that may be marked solely by a physiological response to trauma (e.g., the major gastrointestinal surgical patient) or a more complicated scenario marked by severe sepsis. Nonetheless, several animal and clinical studies have addressed the various critically ill conditions and concluded that supplemental arginine appears safe and potentially beneficial. Several questions still need to be addressed regarding optimal dosing and timing of delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-235
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Nutrition Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 3 2015


  • Arginine safety
  • Bacterial translocation
  • Critically ill
  • Gut health
  • Immunonutrition
  • Intestinal permeability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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