Exercise training reverses the negative effects of chronic L-arginine supplementation on insulin sensitivity

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L-Arginine has emerged as an important supplement for athletes and non-athletes in order to improve performance. Arginine has been extensively used as substrate for nitric oxide synthesis, leading to increased vasodilatation and hormonal secretion. However, the chronic consumption of arginine has been shown to impair insulin sensitivity. In the present study, we aimed to evaluate whether chronic arginine supplementation associated with exercise training would have a beneficial impact on insulin sensitivity. We, therefore, treated Wistar rats for 4 weeks with arginine, associated or not with exercise training (treadmill). We assessed the somatotropic activation, by evaluating growth hormone (GH) gene expression and protein content in the pituitary, as well is GH concentration in the serum. Additionally, we evaluate whole-body insulin sensitivity, by performing an insulin tolerance test. Skeletal muscle morpho-physiological parameters were also assessed. Insulin sensitivity was impaired in the arginine-treated rats. However, exercise training reversed the negative effects of arginine. Arginine and exercise training increased somatotropic axis function, muscle mass and body weight gain. The combination arginine and exercise training further decreased total fat mass. Our results confirm that chronic arginine supplementation leads to insulin resistance, which can be reversed in the association with exercise training. We provide further evidence that exercise training is an important tool to improve whole-body metabolism.

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