Effect of glutamine on Th1 and Th2 cytokine responses of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells

Clin Immunol. 1999 Dec;93(3):294-301. doi: 10.1006/clim.1999.4788.


Decreased glutamine concentrations are found in patients with catabolic stress and are related to susceptibility to infections. In this study, we evaluated the role of glutamine in Th1/Th2 cytokine responses. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were stimulated with phytohemagglutinin (PHA), live attenuated bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), or measles virus in the presence of different glutamine concentrations. We found that glutamine at an optimal concentration (0.6 mM) significantly enhanced PHA-stimulated lymphocyte proliferation as well as Th1 [interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and interleukin-2 (IL-2)] and Th2 cytokine (IL-4 and IL-10) production. In the absence of glutamine, BCG and measles virus elicited minimal lymphocyte proliferation, whereas BCG enhanced Th1 cytokine response and measles virus promoted Th2 cytokine response. Interestingly, addition of glutamine promoted the BCG-elicited Th1 cytokine response (IFN-gamma), but suppressed the measles-induced Th2 cytokine response (IL-10). These results suggest that appropriate glutamine levels may influence host responses to different antigens and microorganisms. Furthermore, predominately Th1, but not Th2, cytokine responses required the presence of optimal concentrations of glutamine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • BCG Vaccine / pharmacology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / ultrastructure
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Glutamine / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis
  • Intracellular Fluid / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / microbiology*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / virology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Measles virus / physiology
  • Th1 Cells / chemistry*
  • Th2 Cells / chemistry*


  • BCG Vaccine
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-2
  • Glutamine
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma