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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2000 March;41(1):47-58


language: Italian

Clinical effectiveness of arginine aspartate in the treatment of fatigue in medical students undergoing examinations. A double blind study

Dell’Erba G., Catania D., Imperatore A., Sancesareo G.


Background. The aim of the present work was to evaluate the effectiveness of arginine aspartate (3 g/die orally for 10 weeks versus placebo) in the treatment of subjective feelings of fatigue and asthenia in voluntary healthy students undergoing a peculiar stress condition: an extended time period before taking examinations (10 weeks).
Methods. For this purpose, the following selective psychometric tests were used: Wessely Modified Fatigue Questionnaire, Rome Burnout Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory, State and Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI Y1). Salivary levels of cortisol and testosterone, the stress hormones, were also measured. One hundred and twenty medical students (49 women and 71 men, age ranging from 20 to 27 years) participated to this double blind, randomized, controlled study. The assessments were made during six morning sessions, each every two weeks, for 10 weeks. At the baseline and at the end of the study, salivary cortisol and testosterone levels were measured. The clinical trial ended one week before the starting of examinations. A GLM Anova for repeated measures and post hoc Fisher tests were used for the statistical analyses.
Results. Arginine aspartate was effective when compared to placebo in ameliorating the subjective feelings of fatigue, at the end of the study, as revealed from self assessments with
Rome Burnout Inventory (physical exhaustion scale), Wessely Modified Fatigue Questionnaire and Beck Depression Inventory (items exploring somatic complaints). No effect was found on anxiety levels. A significant reduction of morning salivary cortisol was found in females at the end of the study. This effect was present also in males without reaching the significant statistic level. Further, a significant increase of T/C index, considered as a marker of a positive anabolic/catabolic balance which may improve the muscular scheletric function, was found.
Conclusions. Altogether, the results of the present study suggest that arginine aspartate may be effective in the prevention and therapy of fatigue and its related asthenic symptoms.

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