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November 16, 2005

Arginine Metabolism, Pulmonary Hypertension, and Sickle Cell Disease

JAMA. 2005;294(19):2432-2434. doi:10.1001/jama.294.19.2433-a

To the Editor: The study by Dr Morris and colleagues1 indicates that a reduction in arginine availability may play a role in pulmonary hypertension and mortality in patients with SCD. The authors provide evidence that in these patients, hemolysis increases circulating levels of arginase, explaining the decline in plasma arginine and the increase in plasma ornithine levels. This derangement in arginine metabolism is associated with pulmonary hypertension and with mortality in patients with SCD. L-Arginine is the precursor of NO, and a reduction in its plasma levels could explain the endothelial vasodilator dysfunction and pulmonary hypertension that occurs in these patients.