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    There has been a renewed interest in the enzyme arginase for its role in various physiological and pathological processes that go beyond the urea cycle. One such role ascribed to arginase has been that of regulating nitric oxide (NO) production by a substrate (l-arginine) competition between arginase and nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Several arginase inhibitors have been developed to investigate the biological roles of arginase, of which Nω-hydroxy-l-norarginine (nor-NOHA) is commercially available and is used widely from cell culture models to clinical investigations in humans. Despite the prevalence of nor-NOHA to investigate the substrate competition between arginase and NOS, little is known regarding interferences that nor-NOHA could have on common methods to assess NO production. Therefore, we investigated if nor-NOHA has unintended consequences on common NO assessment methods. We show that nor-NOHA spontaneously releases biologically active NO-like molecule in cell culture media by reacting with riboflavin. This NO-like molecule is indistinguishable from an NO donor (NOR-3) using common methods to assess NO. Besides riboflavin, nor-NOHA spontaneously reacts with H2O2 to diminish H2O2 content and produce NO-like molecule in the process. Our investigation provides detailed evidence on unintended artefacts related to nor-NOHA that can limit its use in cell culture, as well as some ex vivo and in vivo models. Future studies on arginase should take into consideration the limitations presented here when using nor-NOHA as a research tool, not only in investigations related to arginase and NOS competition, but also for investigating other biological roles of arginase. Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    Tony Y Momma, Javier I Ottaviani. Arginase inhibitor, Nω-hydroxy-L-norarginine, spontaneously releases biologically active NO-like molecule: Limitations for research applications. Free radical biology & medicine. 2020 May 20;152:74-82

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    PMID: 32131024

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