Effect of arginine on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in individuals with and without vasopressin deficiency.

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Arginine stimulates pituitary hormones, like growth hormone and vasopressin, but its effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is unknown. Arginine may also stimulate the HPA axis, possibly through a mechanism involving vasopressin.To investigate the effect of arginine on adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol in subjects with and without vasopressin deficiency.Prospective study, University Hospital Basel.38 patients with central diabetes insipidus, 58 patients with primary polydipsia and 50 healthy controls.Arginine infusion with measurement of ACTH, cortisol and copeptin at baseline and 30/45/60/90/120 minutes.We found different response patterns to arginine: In patients with diabetes insipidus (and low stimulated copeptin levels) median [IQR] ACTH and cortisol increased from 22.9 [16.8, 38.7] to 36.6 [26.2, 52.1] ng/l and from 385 [266, 463] to 467 [349, 533] nmol/l, respectively. In contrast, median [IQR] ACTH and cortisol levels decreased in patients with primary polydipsia (despite high stimulated copeptin levels): ACTH from 17.3 [12.3, 23] to 14.8 [10.9,19.8] ng/l and cortisol from 343 [262, 429] to 272 [220.8, 360.3] nmo/L; likewise, in healthy controls: ACTH from 26.5 [17.6, 35.7] to 14.8 [12.1, 22.7] ng/l and cortisol from 471 [393.3, 581.8] to 301.5 [206.5, 377.8] nmol/l.Diabetes insipidus is associated with increased responsiveness of ACTH/cortisol to arginine. In contrast, arginine does not stimulate the HPA axis in healthy controls or in primary polydipsia.

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