Homoarginine (hArg) and asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) in short stature children without and with growth hormone deficiency: hArg and ADMA are involved differently in growth in the childhood
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Adult subjects with growth hormone (GH) deficiency (GHD) are known to have reduced life expectancy due to increased cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events. In adults, these events are associated with elevated circulating concentrations of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) which is an endogenous inhibitor of l-arginine (Arg)-derived nitric oxide (NO). Low circulating concentrations of homoarginine (hArg) emerged as a cardiovascular risk factor. In adults, hArg seems to antagonize ADMA. In the present work, we tested the hypothesis that children with short stature without or with GHD have altered Arg/NO pathway as compared to children with normal growth. We studied 66 short stature children (38 boys, 28 girls) aged 3.5–17.3 years, who underwent the routine l-Arginine Test to diagnose presence of GHD. GHD was confirmed in 47 children (GHD group; 30 boys, 17 girls) and was absent in the remaining 19 children (non-GHD group; 8 boys, 11 girls). In addition, we investigated 24 healthy age- and gender-matched children (10 boys, 14 girls) with normal growth. In EDTA plasma samples of all children, we determined by mass spectrometry-based methods the concentrations of Arg, hArg and ADMA, and calculated the Arg/ADMA and hArg/ADMA molar ratios. With respect to these biochemical parameters, we did not find statistically significant differences between the GHD and non-GHD groups. Comparing short with normal stature children, we found small differences regarding plasma hArg concentrations [mean ± SD; median (25th–75th percentile)]: 2.06 ± 0.52 µM; 2.12 (1.74–2.36) µM vs. 1.7 ± 0.5 µM; 1.6 (1.4–1.8) µM, P < 0.001. Compared to normal stature children, short stature children had considerably higher plasma concentrations of ADMA [0.77 ± 0.15 µM; 0.77 (0.66–0.85) µM vs. 0.57 ± 0.09 µM; 0.58 (0.50–0.63) µM, P < 0.001], but not of Arg [83.3 ± 19.2 µM; 82.2 (71.9–90.3) µM vs. 86.5 ± 17.8 µM; 84.8 (77.2–94.8) µM, P = 0.336], or the hArg/ADMA ratio [2.74 ± 0.76; 2.7 (2.2–3.1) vs. 3.1 ± 1.2; 2.85 (2.42–3.66), P = 0.161. hArg in the GHD group (r = 0.41, P = 0.004) and the hArg/ADMA ratio in both groups (r = 0.44, P = 0.002 in GHD; r = 0.55, P = 0.01 in non-GHD)], but not ADMA were positively correlated with insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). hArg and hArg/ADMA differed between girls and boys in the GHD and non-GHD groups but in the normal growth group. The hArg/ADMA ratio increased with age in all groups. Our study suggests that hArg and ADMA are involved in growth in the childhood, presumably in an antagonistic manner, with ADMA slowing and hArg accelerating growth.
KeywordsADMA Arginine Children Growth hormone Homoarginine IGF-1 Short stature
Body mass index
Growth hormone deficiency
Insulin-like growth factor 1
Insulin-like growth factor binding protein
Nitric oxide synthase
Thyroid stimulating hormone
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Compliance with ethical standards
Accepted principles of ethical and professional conduct have been followed. The studies were approved by the Ethics Committees of the Bochum University. Informed consent of the parents of the children involved in the study was obtained.
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