Glutamine

background

L-glutamine is a nonessential amino acid (i.e., the human body can synthesize it) found mainly in skeletal muscle. Glutamine plays an important role in many functions of the body, including acid-base balance, nitrogen supply, and formation of DNA, protein, and other nutrients. A typical dietary intake is 5-10 grams daily, coming from common dietary animal and plant protein sources. In certain situations, such as in severe illness or trauma, the body may require higher levels of glutamine. Glutamine has been commonly studied in postsurgical, trauma, critically ill, burn, very-low-birthweight, and transplant patients, as well as for reducing side effects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and HIV medications. Glutamine is also commonly used to improve general immune system health and for exercise performance enhancement.
Some well-designed studies support the use of glutamine as part of parenteral nutrition (nutrition delivered by injection into a vein or muscle) in postsurgical, burn, or ill patients. Further research in patients with malnutrition, digestive concerns, or other illnesses is needed.

Related Terms

2,5-Diamino-5-oxopentaenoic acid, 2-aminoglutaramic acid, alanyl-glutamine, Aminopure™, D-glutamine, Dipeptiven®, Earthlink Science Glutamine Chews Chocolate (Amerifit), GLN, glutamic acid 5-amide, Glutamine Express (Genetic Evolutionary Nutrition), Glutamine Fuel Mega® (Twinlab), Glutamine Fuel Powder® (Twinlab), levoglutamide, L-Glutamine Power (Champion Nutrition), Q.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
 
Burns (Grade: A)
Evidence suggests that incorporation of glutamine into enteral feeding (tube feeding into the stomach or intestine) and intravenous feeding of burn patients offers benefit.
Total parenteral nutrition (as adjunct during trauma or after surgery) (Grade: B)
Some evidence suggests that incorporation of glutamine into parenteral nutrition (feeding by tube into a vein or muscle) for trauma and postsurgical patients may offer benefit. However, further studies are needed before conclusions can be drawn.
Critical illness (Grade: C)
Although some preliminary evidence suggests that glutamine-enriched feeding may offer benefit to patients with critical illness, not all results from studies agree. Further well-designed research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Cystic fibrosis (Grade: C)
Currently, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of glutamine for cystic fibrosis. Additional research is needed.
HIV (medication side effects) (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests a benefit from glutamine in reducing side effects from HIV medications. Further well-designed research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Immunomodulation (Grade: C)
There is conflicting evidence with regard to glutamine's effects on the immune system. Further well-designed research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Impaired glucose tolerance (Grade: C)
Limited evidence suggests that glutamine may be beneficial to patients with impaired glucose tolerance. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Inflammatory bowel conditions (Grade: C)
Preliminary evidence suggests that glutamine may be beneficial to patients with inflammatory bowel conditions. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Malnutrition (Grade: C)
There is conflicting evidence with regard to glutamine's effects on nutrition status. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Mood (Grade: C)
Early evidence suggests that glutamine may offer slight improvements in mood. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Pancreatitis (Grade: C)
There is conflicting evidence with regard to glutamine's effects on pancreatitis. Further well-designed research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Pouchitis (Inflammation of a surgically constructed bowel pouch) (Grade: C)
Early evidence suggests that glutamine may lessen symptoms of pouchitis. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Septicemia (serious bacterial infections in the blood) (Grade: C)
There is conflicting evidence with regard to glutamine's effects on septicemia. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Sickle cell anemia (Grade: C)
Limited evidence suggests that glutamine may be beneficial to patients with sickle cell anemia. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Supplementation in preterm and very low birthweight infants (Grade: C)
There is conflicting evidence with regard to the effects of glutamine supplementation in preterm and very-low-birthweight infants. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Transplants (stem cell, bone marrow) (Grade: C)
There is conflicting evidence with regard to the effects of glutamine supplementation in transplant patients. Further research is required before conclusions can be drawn.
Diarrhea (Grade: D)
Current evidence suggests that glutamine may not be useful in reducing symptoms associated with diarrhea.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (Grade: D)
Current evidence suggests that glutamine may not be beneficial to patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Exercise performance enhancement (Grade: D)
Current evidence does not support the use of glutamine for weight training or endurance exercise.
Malabsorption syndrome (Grade: D)
Current evidence suggests that glutamine may not offer benefits to patients with malabsorption syndrome (short bowel syndrome).
Reducing side effects of chemotherapy or radiotherapy (Grade: D)
The majority of evidence does not support the use of glutamine for reduction of side effects associated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.