Citrulline: chemical formula and use in herbal medicine

According to the advertisements that flaunt its miraculous effects, the citrulline should have magical powers and be able to solve all problems of male impotence. It is all worth trying, as we will see, but the fame of this substance has already presented it to the world in this capacity. It is a "simple" non-essential alpha-type amino acid whose name derives from its origin. In fact, citrulline derives from the Latin term citrullus, which means watermelon precisely because this amino acid was isolated for the first time in a watermelon.

Putting all the beliefs related to watermelon and citrulline, let's try to clarify the real powers of this substance in order to understand what its effects are and if it can be useful to keep us healthy. Let's start with real data: it is an amino acid, it is involved in the urea cycle and is involved in the immune system.

Citrulline: chemical formula

The chemical formula that identifies the citrulline universally it is C6H13N3O3, its IUPAC name is 2-amino-5- (carbamoylamino) pentanoic acid

We find this amino acid involved in many related processes the liver, the center of our metabolism. However, it is not encoded in any mRNA molecule despite being a component of some important protein structures including histones.

There are still ongoing studies on this amino acid which could originate fromactivities of the PADs, calcium-dependent intracellular enzymes. It should also be noted that some histones with traces of citrulline have been detected in cells unable to reproduce.

Citrulline and urea

Let's start by analyzing the role of citrulline within the urea cycle in which it actively participates by promoting the elimination of ammonia both in the liver and in the kidney, organs in which it is present. Together with ornithine, a carbon and ammonium oxide, citrulline is precursor of arginine. We are able to synthesize citrulline starting from ornithine thanks to the action of the enzyme ornithine-transcarbamylase. If we take these two amino acids and combine them with aspartic acid, we obtain arginosuccinic acid which can be subsequently transformed into arginine.

It works like this. It starts from
Ornithine + carbon monoxide + ammonium
You get it citrulline + aspartic acid
And then later arginosuccinic acid → arginine

Citrulline and rheumatoid arthritis

Good news for those who study, or suffer from rheumatoid arthritis: An anti-citrulline antibody has recently been isolated which could help in the diagnosis of this increasingly common pathology.

There are, and remain, the traditional diagnostic tests for rheumatoid arthritis, but to improve results, since they often give non-specificity problems, we can support other tests that are based on additional biochemical markers. Precisely in this group we find the anti-citrulline, also called anti-citrullinated cyclic peptide antibody (anti-CCP).

The diagnostic test that uses this antibody is called the anti-CCP assay test, it is an antibody test and is performed on blood samples from patients potentially affected by rheumatoid arthritis. In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, antibodies directed against the cyclic-citrullinated peptides abound, the test identifies and quantifies precisely those and then develops a diagnosis on the disease.

It has not yet been fully defined antibody profile we are talking about but there is some clinical evidence that shows the correspondence between rheumatoid arthritis and the presence of anti-citrulline antibody

Citrulline and impotence

We find the citrulline advertised and marketed as theaphrodisiac amino acid, it is not entirely so but it is not a totally far-fetched lie. There is something true, let's see what.
By dilating the blood vessels, this substance actually promotes an erection. Once our body transforms it into arginine, as explained above, it also manages to stimulate the immune system and also the cardiovascular system.

What follows? On the one hand, the vasodilation and therefore the amount of nitric oxide available increases, on the other hand it improves the elasticity of the blood vessels. Here is the reason why we find citrulline alongside substances such as Viagra or Cialis. There is a lot of marketing but it remains an authentic remedy for erectile dysfunction.

Citrulline and stress

When we need to recover from a period of psychophysical stress there citrulline can give us a hand, putting aside its aphrodisiac properties for a moment. All thanks to its anti-atherosclerotic and protective blood vessel activities and its ability to increase the body's metabolic rate and decrease muscle fatigue, enhancing aerobic performance.

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