Arginine AKG- The Breakdown of Both Compounds

by Erik Tremblay

Arginine AKG is a mixture containing both of the following compounds; A semi-essential amino acid (L-Arginine) and the nitrogen free form of the amino acid and glutamate (AKG). AKG stands for Alpha-ketoglutarate, which is the anion (negatively charged) version of Alpha-ketoglutaric acid. This compound is one of two ketone derivatives of glutaric acid (the other being β-ketoglutaric acid which only differs by the position of the ketone group being on the beta carbon). They both play an important role in performance enhancing an overall wellness.


L-Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid that is directly involved in the production of Nitric Oxide via the breakdown of it by the class of enzymes known as oxide synthase enzymes. At the natural pH of the human body, (ideal pH being around 7.365) the carboxylic acid on L-arginine (indicated in the picture) is deprotonated (meaning it loses a proton. Hydrogens carry 1 proton so they are typically lost and gained by different compounds in different reactions depending on the charges of the molecules. Deprotonation refers to the loss of a hydrogen while protonation refers to the gain of a hydrogen). So the carboxylic acid of the L-Arginine molecule looses a hydrogen to become negatively charged (as the electrons in the bond move to the oxygen). This occurs while the amino group on the molecule(indicated on the picture) is protonated to become a positively charged NH3 group. The ganidino group on the opposite side of the molecule is also protonated to result in the charged guanidinium form (-C-(NH2)2+). All these movements of hydrogens from the interactions of water and other substances in your blood result in an arginine molecule that is charged and non-armomatic. This causes it to be used as a precursor in the biosynthesis of nitric oxide. .Arginine is the direct producer of Nitric Oxide through the reaction catalyzed by Nitric Oxide synthase which yields Nitric oxide and Citrulline as a by- product(reaction scheme is below). The fact that Arginine is the direct producer Nitric Oxide is why it is critical to supplement with Arginine in conjunction to Citrulline. The increased synthesis of nitric oxide results in dilated blood vessels that bring an increased amount of nutrients to your muscles; delaying fatigue, rapidizing recovery, and increasing strength.

Nitric Oxide Synthase Reaction:

2 L-arginine + 3 NADPH + 3 H+ + 4 O2 {\displaystyle \rightleftharpoons

\rightleftharpoons 2 citrulline +2 nitric oxide + 4 H2O + 3 NADP+



AKG is an important compound that is absorbed through the small intestine and is a vital molecule that is used in the Kreb’s Cycle (see malic acid for description) to produce energy for cells. It is an important intermediate of the cycle as it is derived from citric acid when CO2 is released from the 6 carbon molecule of citric acid forming AKG. This is then used in the next step of the cycle to transfer an electron to FAD+ to eventually form FADH2 which is used in most efficient energy producing step of cellular respiration, the electron transport chain. AKG has also been shown to have anti-cancer effects, cardiovascular benefits of aiding in blood circulation, improving skin conditions, and preventing the breakdown of muscle

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