The Influence of Glutamine, Its Decomposition Products, and Glutaminase on the Transformation of Human and Mouse Lymphocytes

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1976 Jan 14;421(1):33-43. doi: 10.1016/0304-4165(76)90167-7.


The extent of blast transformation for human and BALB/c mouse lymphocytes has been examined over a wide range of glutamine concentrations with several agents which initiate blastogenesis. Maximum [3H] thymidine incorporation was seen at 0.5 mM glutamine for lymphoid tissues stimulated in the following manner: human and BALB/c splenic and peripheral blood lymphocytes with phytohemagglutinin, BALB/c splenic lymphocytes with lipopolysaccharide, and BALB/c vs C3H/HeJ two-way mixed lymphocyte cultures. The inhibition of blastogenesis exerted by glutamine concentrations greater than 0.5 mM could not be reversed by washing and reculturing the cells at 0.5 mM glutamine. To elucidate the reason for inhibition by higher glutamine concentrations, the products of spontaneous glutamine decomposition, L-2-pyrrolidone-5-carboxylic acid and ammonia were tested for their in vitro influence on BALB/c splenocyte blastogenesis. Pyrrolidone-carboxylic acid, in concentrations up to 5 mM, was without effect. In contrast, ammonia concentrations exceeding 1 mM became increasingly more inhibitory. The genesis of inhibitory levels of ammonia in culture medium was confirmed and has been considered as primarily responsible for inhibiton by high glutamine. Addition of Escherichia coli glutaminase (pH optimum 4.9) to cultures of BALB/c splenocytes or human peripheral blood lymphocytes had no effect on either the extent of blastogenesis of these tissues or the glutamine levels in their culture medium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ammonia / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glutaminase / pharmacology*
  • Glutamine / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Lectins / pharmacology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Pyrrolidonecarboxylic Acid / pharmacology
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Thymidine / metabolism


  • Lectins
  • Glutamine
  • Ammonia
  • Glutaminase
  • Pyrrolidonecarboxylic Acid
  • Thymidine