Increased mitochondrial arginine metabolism supports bioenergetics in asthma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Weiling Xu
  • Sudakshina Ghosh
  • Suzy A.A. Comhair
  • Kewal Asosingh
  • Allison J. Janocha
  • Deloris A. Mavrakis
  • Carole D. Bennett
  • Lourdes L. Gruca
  • Brian B. Graham
  • Kimberly A. Queisser
  • Christina C. Kao
  • Samuel H. Wedes
  • John M. Petrich
  • Rubin M. Tuder
  • Satish C. Kalhan
  • Serpil C. Erzurum

External Institution(s)

  • Cleveland Clinic Foundation
  • University of Colorado Denver
  • Baylor College of Medicine


Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2465-2481
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number7
StatusPublished - Jul 1 2016


High levels of arginine metabolizing enzymes, including inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and arginase (ARG), are typical in asthmatic airway epithelium; however, little is known about the metabolic effects of enhanced arginine flux in asthma. Here, we demonstrated that increased metabolism sustains arginine availability in asthmatic airway epithelium with consequences for bioenergetics and inflammation. Expression of iNOS, ARG2, arginine synthetic enzymes, and mitochondrial respiratory complexes III and IV was elevated in asthmatic lung samples compared with healthy controls. ARG2 overexpression in a human bronchial epithelial cell line accelerated oxidative bioenergetic pathways and suppressed hypoxiainducible factors (HIFs) and phosphorylation of the signal transducer for atopic Th2 inflammation STAT6 (pSTAT6), both of which are implicated in asthma etiology. Arg2-deficient mice had lower mitochondrial membrane potential and greater HIF-2α than WT animals. In an allergen-induced asthma model, mice lacking Arg2 had greater Th2 inflammation than WT mice, as indicated by higher levels of pSTAT6, IL-13, IL-17, eotaxin, and eosinophils and more mucus metaplasia. Bone marrow transplants from Arg2-deficient mice did not affect airway inflammation in recipient mice, supporting resident lung cells as the drivers of elevated Th2 inflammation. These data demonstrate that arginine flux preserves cellular respiration and suppresses pathological signaling events that promote inflammation in asthma.

Citation formats


Xu, W., Ghosh, S., Comhair, S. A. A., Asosingh, K., Janocha, A. J., Mavrakis, D. A., ... Erzurum, S. C. (2016). Increased mitochondrial arginine metabolism supports bioenergetics in asthma. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 126(7), 2465-2481.


Xu, W, Ghosh, S, Comhair, SAA, Asosingh, K, Janocha, AJ, Mavrakis, DA, Bennett, CD, Gruca, LL, Graham, BB, Queisser, KA, Kao, CC, Wedes, SH, Petrich, JM, Tuder, RM, Kalhan, SC & Erzurum, SC 2016, 'Increased mitochondrial arginine metabolism supports bioenergetics in asthma', Journal of Clinical Investigation, vol. 126, no. 7, pp. 2465-2481.