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OKG may play a role in the treatment of individuals recovering from severe physical trauma.
When the body experiences severe trauma—such as injury, major surgery , or burns—it goes into what is called a catabolic state.In this temporary condition, the body tends to tear itself down rather than build itself up. The catabolic hormone cortisone plays a major role in inducing catabolism. In the catabolic state, the body fails to utilize protein found in the diet, and high levels of protein breakdown products appear in the urine. Calcium levels in urine also rise, as bones begin to weaken.
The opposite of a catabolic state is an anabolic state,in which the body tends to build itself up. Studies of hospitalized patients recovering from severe illnesses or injuries suggest that OKG blocks the catabolic effects of cortisone and also directly stimulates anabolic activity. 1 2 3 4 5 6 It is not clear how OKG accomplishes this. It may directly affect the enzymes involved in hormone metabolism. Another possibility is that OKG may increase levels of growth hormone (an anabolic hormone), at least when it is taken in high enough doses (12 mg a day or more). 7 8 It has also been suggested that OKG increases insulin release, which would have anabolic effects; however, this has been disputed. 9 Based on these findings, OKG has become popular as a bodybuilding supplement. However, there are no reported double-blind studies of OKG alone as a sports supplement. One study evaluated a combined arginine and ornithine supplement and found some evidence of benefit. 10 OKG and a related substance ornithine-l-aspartate have shown some promise for hepatic encephalopathy, a life-threatening complication of liver cirrhosis . 11
- De Bandt JP, Cynober LA. Amino acids with anabolic properties. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 1(3):263-72.
- Brocker P, Vellas B, Albarede J, et al. A two-centre, randomized, double-blind trial of ornithine oxoglutarate in 194 elderly, ambulatory, convalescent subjects. Age Aging. 1994;23:303–306.
- Coudray-Lucas C, Le Bever H, Cynober L, De Bandt JP, Carsin H. Ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate improves wound healing in severe burn patients: a prospective randomized double-blind trial versus isonitrogenous controls. Crit Care Med. 28(6):1772-6.
- Cynober LA. The use of alpha-ketoglutarate salts in clinical nutrition and metabolic care. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2(1):33-7.
- Donati L, Ziegler F, Pongelli G, Signorini MS. Nutritional and clinical efficacy of ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate in severe burn patients. Clin Nutr. 18(5):307-11.
- Neu J, DeMarco V, Li N. Glutamine: clinical applications and mechanisms of action. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 5(1):69-75.
- Bucci L, Hickson JF, Pivarnik JM, et al. Ornithine ingestion and growth hormone release in bodybuilders. Nutr Res. 1990;10:239–245.
- Fogelholm GM, Näveri HK, Kiilavuori KT, Härkönen MH. Low-dose amino acid supplementation: no effects on serum human growth hormone and insulin in male weightlifters. Int J Sport Nutr. 3(3):290-7.
- Bucci LR, Hickson JF Jr, Wolinsky I, Pivarnik JM. Ornithine supplementation and insulin release in bodybuilders. Int J Sport Nutr. 2(3):287-91.
- Elam RP, Hardin DH, Sutton RA, Hagen L. Effects of arginine and ornithine on strength, lean body mass and urinary hydroxyproline in adult males. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 29(1):52-6.
- Kircheis G, Wettstein M, Dahl S, Häussinger D. Clinical efficacy of L-ornithine-L-aspartate in the management of hepatic encephalopathy. Metab Brain Dis. 17(4):453-62.