Oral L-arginine supplementation increases VEGF in exhaled breath condensate (EBC) but not serum during acute altitude exposure at 4383 m


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We previously reported dietary supplementation with L-arginine, the substrate for NO synthesis, leads to increased levels of VEGF in EBC during an acute (24 h) ascent to 4383m (HAMB In Press). In order to investigate whether this increased VEGF in EBC was related to a systemic increase in VEGF or an isolated lung effect, we measured the VEGF levels in serum samples obtained at 0, 8 and 24 h of the previously reported study. Seven healthy male adults consumed a liquid mixture containing L-arginine (4 gms/200 ml, every 8 hours for 48 hours, beginning 24 hours prior to ascent) or placebo. Subjects were transported from White Mountain Research Center (1235 m) to White Mountain Summit Hut (4383 m) over the course of 3–4 hours. We measured unbound VEGF in EBC and serum samples collected at 0, 8 and 24 h. Symptoms of acute mountain sickness were assessed at rest and during exercise through the course of 24 hours at altitude. As previously reported, there was a significant increase in the average EBC concentration of VEGF with L-arginine treatment over the 24 hour period. While there was a significant increase in the 8 and 24 h serum concentration of VEGF (p≤0.05), there was no effect of L-arginine at any time point. There was a significant positive correlation between serum VEGF levels and headache scores (p≤0.05). We conclude that L-arginine supplementation increases VEGF production in the lung, but that this increase has no effect on systemic production of VEGF at altitude.

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Publication Date


Publication Title

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Annual Meeting, Experimental Biology 2006

Conference Dates

April 1-5, 2006

Conference Location

San Francisco, CA

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