Objective: We examined the effect of a diet supplemented with alanyl-glutamine (AG) or placebo glycine (G) on intestinal barrier function and growth in children in northeastern Brazil.
Patients and methods: One hundred seven children ages 7.9 to 82.2 months with a weight-for-age (WAZ), height-for-age (HAZ), or weight-for-height (WHZ) z-score less than -1 were studied. From July 2003 to November 2004, 51 study patients received AG (24 g/d) and 56 received G (25 g/d; isonitrogenic concentration) control for 10 days. Lactulose/mannitol excretion ratio was used as a measure of intestinal permeability and was performed on days 1 and 10 of nutritional supplementation. Weight and height were measured on days 1, 10, 30, and 120 of the protocol.
Results: The patients were similar on admission with regard to age, sex, birth weight, nutritional status, lactulose/mannitol ratio, and serum concentrations of glutamine and arginine. The percentage of lactulose urinary excretion significantly improved (decreased) in children receiving AG for 10 days but not in those receiving glycine controls. AG significantly increased cumulative change over 120 days in WHZ and WAZ scores but not HAZ scores after adjustment for age and season in comparison with the placebo glycine group.
Conclusions: Children tolerated AG-supplemented enteral formula well, and it significantly improved cumulative WHZ and WAZ over 120 days in comparison with children in the placebo glycine group. The data also suggested a beneficial effect of AG in the barrier function paracellular pathway, albeit with reduced mannitol excretion. Thus, although the effect of AG on reduced mannitol concentration requires clarification, AG appears to improve nutrition and barrier function.