Dietary arginine and N-carbamylglutamate supplementation enhances the antioxidant statuses of the liver and plasma against oxidative stress in rats
N-Carbamylglutamate (NCG), an effective precursor of arginine (ARG), can enhance ARG synthesis, increase intestinal growth, and improve reproductive performance. However, the antioxidant effect of NCG remains largely unknown. This study aims to survey the effects of ARG and NCG supplementation on the antioxidant statuses of the liver and plasma in rats under oxidative stress. Rats were fed for 30 days with one of the three iso-nitrogenous diets: basal diet (BD), BD plus 1% ARG, and BD plus 0.1% NCG. On day 28, half of the rats fed with BD were intraperitoneally injected with 12 mg per kg body weight of diquat (diquat group) and the other half was injected intraperitoneally with sterile 0.9% NaCl solution (control group). The other diet groups also received an intraperitoneal injection of 12 mg per kg body weight of diquat, as follows: diquat + 1% ARG (DT + ARG), and diquat + 0.1% NCG (DT + NCG). Rat liver and plasma samples obtained 48 h after diquat injection were analyzed. Results indicated that diquat significantly affected the plasma conventional biochemical components (relative to the controls), which were partially alleviated in both the DT + ARG and DT + NCG groups (P < 0.05). Diquat also significantly decreased the glutathione (GSH) content (by 30.0%), and decreased anti-superoxide anion (ASA; by 13.8%) and anti-hydroxyl radical (AHR; by 38.9%) abilities in the plasma, and also decreased catalase (CAT) activity both in the liver (by 17.5%) and plasma (by 33.4%) compared with the control group. By contrast, diquat increased the malondialdehyde (MDA) content (by 23.0%) in the plasma (P < 0.05) compared with the control group. Relative to those of the diquat group, higher CAT activity and GSH content were noted in the plasma of the DT + ARG group and in the liver of both DT + ARG and DT + NCG groups (P < 0.05). Furthermore, the DT + ARG group exhibited significantly enhanced plasma ASA activity (P < 0.05). The DT + NCG group showed significantly improved total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC) in the liver and plasma (P < 0.05). Increased GSH content and elevated ASA and AHR activities were also found, but the MDA content in the plasma was depleted (P < 0.05). Compared with the DT + ARG group, the DT + NCG group showed increased liver and plasma T-AOC, enhanced plasma AHR activity, increased liver ASA activity, and decreased plasma MDA content (P < 0.05). Overall, supplementation of 1% ARG and 0.1% NCG can partially protect the liver and plasma from oxidative stress. Furthermore, compared with 1% ARG, 0.1% NCG more effectively alleviated oxidative stress.