Glutamine: the pivot of our nitrogen economy? Conference Paper uri icon


  • Glutamine serves as a shuttle of useful nontoxic nitrogen, supplying nitrogen from glutamine-producing (eg, muscle) to glutamine-consuming tissues. True production rates of glutamine are difficult to measure, but probably are less than 60 to 100 g/d for a 70-kg man. During catabolic stress increased amounts of glutamine are released from muscle, consisting of protein derived glutamine, newly synthesized glutamine, and glutamine losses from the intramuscular free pool. The large and rapid losses of free muscle glutamine are difficult to restore, presumably as a result of disturbances in the Na+ electrochemical gradient across the cell membrane. Whereas increased amounts of glutamine are released from muscle, glutamine consumption by the immune system (liver, spleen) also is enhanced. Thus, during catabolic stress changes occur in the flow of glutamine between organs. These changes are not necessarily reflected by alterations in the whole-body appearance rate of glutamine. In contrast with the gut, where glutamine is taken up in a concentration dependent manner, the immune system actively takes up glutamine despite decreased plasma concentrations. Supplementation with glutamine influences uptake by both the gut and the immune system, as evidenced by increased mucosal glutamine concentrations and gut glutathione production. There is evidence suggesting that this improves gut barrier function. Although the benefit of glutamine supplementation is most evident from experimental studies, clinical studies on the effect of glutamine do exist and suggest that glutamine supplementation has beneficial effects with regard to patient outcome.

published proceedings

  • JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr

altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • van Acker, B. A., von Meyenfeldt, M. F., van der Hulst, R. R., Hulsew, K. W., Wagenmakers, A. J., Deutz, N. E., ... Soeters, P. B.

citation count

  • 34

complete list of authors

  • van Acker, BA||von Meyenfeldt, MF||van der Hulst, RR||Hulsew√©, KW||Wagenmakers, AJ||Deutz, NE||de Blaauw, I||Dejong, CH||van Kreel, BK||Soeters, PB

publication date

  • September 1999