Nitric Oxide (NO) was first discovered in 1998 by three American physicians who eventually went on to win the Nobel Prize for their research. Since then, the overall importance of NO for the body has become common knowledge with Nitric Oxide known to be ubiquitous, water soluble, free radical gas produced by the body’s own cells. Nitric Oxide is also known to be synthesized from the amino-acid L-arginine by a family of enzymes, the ‘nitric oxide synthesases’ via the L-arginine / NO pathway.
The precise role of Nitric Oxide (NO) in cancer however is poorly understood yet it is evident that NO is critical to many key biological processes, including neuro-transmission, immune system function, and vascular health. NO’s main job is to transmit signals to other cells in the body which is vastly important in cellular communication, known to be impeded in cancerous growth thus leaving room for cancer to develop.
“The multifaceted nature of NO in tumor biology demonstrates its role as a master regulator of tumor progression, with the ability to regulate multiple cellular processes in a dynamic fashion!!”
Arginine on the other hand has several immuno-modulatory effects such as stimulating T- and natural killer cell activity and influencing pro-inflammatory cytokine levels. The discovery that L-arginine is the sole precursor for the multi-functional messenger molecule Nitric Oxide, led to investigation into the role of arginine in numerous physiologic and pathophysiologic phenomena including cancer.
Researchers around the world are serious about the use of amino acids in cancer treatment, with L-arginine being the common substrate for two enzymes, arginase and nitric oxide synthase (NOS). The body needs higher levels of arginine when it is under conditions of stress, illness, malnutrition or injury therefore when these conditions are present, arginine becomes essential for healing to occur.
The action of L-arginine is mainly dependent on its end-product, Nitric Oxide (NO). The role of the L-arginine/NO pathway in tumor therapy has been well-studied with this pathway having been confirmed to play important roles in both tumorigensis and tumor destruction, and therefore reportedly showing great promise from a therapeutic perspective.