Watermelon and L-arginine consumption improve serum lipid profile and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress by altering gene expression in rats fed an atherogenic diet

Mee Young Hong, Joshua Beidler, Shirin Hooshmand, Arturo Figueroa, Mark Kern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is rich in L-citrulline, an L-arginine precursor that may reduce cardiovascular disease risk. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of watermelon powder and L-arginine on lipid profiles, antioxidant capacity, and inflammation in rats fed an atherogenic diet. We hypothesized that watermelon and L-arginine would increase antioxidant capacity and reduce blood lipids and inflammation by modulating hepatic gene expression. Male Sprague-Dawley rats aged 21 days (N = 32) were assigned to 3 groups and fed diets containing watermelon powder (0.5% wt/wt), L-arginine (0.3% as 0.36% L-arginine HCl wt/wt), or a control diet for 9 weeks. Watermelon and L-arginine supplementation improved lipid profiles by lowering serum concentrations of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P <.050). Serum concentrations of C-reactive protein were significantly lower (P <.050) in the watermelon and L-arginine groups. Rats in the watermelon and L-arginine groups showed reduced oxidative stress, increased total antioxidant capacity, and higher concentrations of superoxide dismutase and glutathione S-transferase (P <.050). Concentrations of aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and lactate dehydrogenase were lower (P <.050) in the watermelon and L-arginine groups. Watermelon and L-arginine consumption upregulated hepatic gene expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase and downregulated expression of fatty acid synthase, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase, sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1, sterol regulatory element-binding protein 2, cyclooxygenase-2, and nuclear factor–κB p65 (P <.050). The results support the hypothesis that watermelon and arginine improve cardiovascular disease risk factors including lipid profile, antioxidant capacity, and inflammation by altering relevant gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-54
Number of pages9
JournalNutrition Research
Volume58
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Antioxidants
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hepatic gene expression
  • Inflammation
  • Rat
  • Watermelon

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