Glutamine alimentation in catabolic state.J Nutr 2001; 131(9 Suppl):2569S-77S; discussion 2590SJN
Glutamine should be reclassified as a conditionally essential amino acid in the catabolic state because the body's glutamine expenditures exceed synthesis and low glutamine levels in plasma are associated with poor clinical outcome. After severe stress, several amino acids are mobilized from muscle tissue to supply energy and substrate to the host. Glutamine is one of the most important amino acids that provide this function. Glutamine acts as the preferred respiratory fuel for lymphocytes, hepatocytes and intestinal mucosal cells and is metabolized in the gut to citrulline, ammonium and other amino acids. Low concentrations of glutamine in plasma reflect reduced stores in muscle and this reduced availability of glutamine in the catabolic state seems to correlate with increased morbidity and mortality. Adding glutamine to the nutrition of clinical patients, enterally or parenterally, may reduce morbidity. Several excellent clinical trials have been performed to prove efficacy and feasibility of the use of glutamine supplementation in parenteral and enteral nutrition. The increased intake of glutamine has resulted in lower septic morbidity in certain critically ill patient populations. This review will focus on the efficacy and the importance of glutamine supplementation in diverse catabolic states.