L-Arginine Synthesis from L-Citrulline in Myeloid Cells Drives Host Defense against Mycobacteria In Vivo [INFECTIOUS DISEASE AND HOST RESPONSE]

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Immunonutrition as a therapeutic approach is rapidly gaining interest in the fight against infection. Targeting l-arginine metabolism is intriguing, considering this amino acid is the substrate for antimicrobial NO production by macrophages. The importance of l-arginine during infection is supported by the finding that inhibiting its synthesis from its precursor l-citrulline blunts host defense. During the first few weeks following pulmonary mycobacterial infection, we found a drastic increase in l-citrulline in the lung, even though serum concentrations were unaltered. This correlated with increased gene expression of the l-citrulline–generating (i.e., iNOS) and l-citrulline–using (i.e., Ass1) enzymes in key myeloid populations. Eliminating l-arginine synthesis from l-citrulline in myeloid cells via conditional deletion of either Ass1 or Asl resulted in increased Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin and Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv burden in the lungs compared with controls. Our data illustrate the necessity of l-citrulline metabolism for myeloid defense against mycobacterial infection and highlight the potential for host-directed therapy against mycobacterial disease targeting this nutrient and/or its metabolic pathway.

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