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Arginine is an integral part of host defense when invading pathogens are encountered. The arginine metabolite nitric oxide (NO) confers antimicrobial properties, whereas the metabolite ornithine is utilized for polyamine synthesis. Polyamines are crucial to tissue repair and anti-inflammatory responses. iNOS/arginase balance can determine Th1/Th2 response. Furthermore, the host arginine pool and its metabolites are utilized as energy sources by various pathogens. Apart from its role as an immune modulator, recent studies have also highlighted the therapeutic effects of arginine. This article sheds light upon the roles of arginine metabolism during pathological conditions and its therapeutic potential.
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