Effect of glutamate ingestion on whole-body glutamate turnover in healthy elderly and patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
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OBJECTIVE: Decreased whole-body glutamate turnover is found in healthy elderly and in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Glutamate supplementation as an option to increase whole-body glutamate turnover and, hence, glutamate availability has never been investigated. In the present study, we developed a protocol based on repeated glutamate ingestion to increase plasma glutamate concentration to a steady-state level without inducing toxic side effects and to evaluate the effect of repeated glutamate ingestion on whole-body glutamate turnover in patients with COPD and healthy elderly. METHODS: In part 1, the response of plasma glutamate concentration was determined in young healthy volunteers who repeatedly ingested a glutamate solution. The tolerance of the glutamate drink was evaluated in 26 healthy volunteers by a food tolerance questionnaire. In part 2, eight male patients with COPD and eight healthy elderly ingested the glutamate drink, an isomolar amount of a glutamine drink, or only water to test the effect on plasma glutamate concentration and whole-body glutamate turnover. RESULTS: In part 1, repeated ingestion of 30 mg of glutamate per kilogram of body weight every 20 min increased plasma glutamate concentration five-fold to steady-state level within 80 min and without any side effects. In part 2, repeated ingestion of glutamate significantly increased whole-body glutamate turnover in healthy controls and patients with COPD, although the increase was smaller in patients with COPD than in controls. CONCLUSION: We found that repeated ingestion of 30 mg of glutamate per kilogram of body weight every 20 min can increase glutamate availability in healthy elderly and patients with COPD, who are likely more dependent on external glutamate ingestion than are young adults.