Study objectives: To evaluate the effects of L-arginine on acute pulmonary embolism (APE)-induced pulmonary hypertension and increases in lung matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9 activities.
Design: Prospective trial.
Setting: University laboratory.
Interventions: Using an isolated lung perfusion rat model of APE, we examined whether L-arginine (0, 0.5, 3, and 10 mmol/L; five to seven rats per group) attenuates the pulmonary hypertension induced by the injection of 6.6 mg/kg of 300 μm microspheres into the pulmonary artery. In a second series of experiments (6 to 11 rats per group), we investigated whether nonselective inhibition of nitric oxide (NO) synthases with NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME; 4 mmol/L) decreases the effects produced by L-arginine. Lung MMP-2 and MMP-9 activities were determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis gelatin zymography.
Results: L-arginine at 0.5, 3, and 10 mmol/L attenuated APE-induced pulmonary hypertension by 25 to 42% (all p < 0.05). The protective effect of L-arginine was completely reversed by inhibition of NO synthesis with L-NAME. APE was associated with increased lung MMP-2 and MMP-9 activities (both p < 0.05). While L-arginine at 0.5 mmol/L produced no effect on MMPs, L-arginine 3 at mmol/L and 10 mmol/L attenuated the increases in MMP-2 and MMP-9 activities after APE (both p < 0.05).
Conclusions: L-arginine attenuates APE-induced pulmonary hypertension through mechanisms involving increased NO synthesis and maybe attenuation of lung MMP-2 and MMP-9 activities.