Oral and parenteral glutamine in bone marrow transplantation: a randomized, double-blind study

JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1999 May-Jun;23(3):117-22. doi: 10.1177/0148607199023003117.


Background: Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) supplemented with glutamine (GLN) has been reported to be effective for patients with bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Our aim was to evaluate enteral and parenteral glutamine in patients undergoing BMT.

Methods: For evaluation of GLN in BMT, 66 patients with 43 hematologic and 23 solid malignancies (21 breast carcinomas), were randomized, double-blinded, to either oral GLN (n = 35) or glycine-control (GLY) (n = 31), 10 g three times daily. When TPN became necessary, patients who received GLN orally were given TPN with GLN (0.57 g/kg). Those who received GLY received standard TPN, isocaloric and isonitrogenous. Patients with hematologic malignancies received high-dose chemotherapy, total body irradiation, and either allogeneic (ALLO) BMT (n = 18) or autologous (AUTO) stem cell transplantation (n = 25). Patients with solid malignancies (n = 23) received AUTO.

Results: There were 14 in-hospital deaths without relationship to GLN administration. For respective comparisons of ALLO and AUTO transplants in the GLN and GLY hematologic groups and AUTO in the solid tumor groups, there were no significant differences in hospital stay, duration of stay after BMT, TPN days, neutrophil recovery >500/mm3, incidence of positive blood cultures, sepsis, mucositis, and diarrhea. Acute graft us host disease occurred in 1 of 10 hematologic patients receiving GLN and in 3 of 8 patients receiving GLY placebo (p > .05). Possible reduction in need for TPN and a suggestion of improved long-term survival were associated with GLN.

Conclusions: Oral and parenteral GLN seemed to be of limited benefit for patients having AUTO or ALLO BMT for hematologic or solid malignancies. Further study of long-term effects of GLN in BMT seems warranted.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amino Acids / administration & dosage
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Glutamine / administration & dosage*
  • Glutamine / therapeutic use
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / mortality
  • Leukemia / therapy*
  • Lymphoma / mortality
  • Lymphoma / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total*
  • Survival Rate
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Transplantation, Homologous


  • Amino Acids
  • Glutamine