Effects of glutamine supplementation on patients undergoing abdominal surgery

Chin Med Sci J. 2009 Mar;24(1):55-9. doi: 10.1016/s1001-9294(09)60060-2.


Objective: To evaluate the effects of supplementation of glutamine (GLN) on maintaining glutathione (GSH) level, immune system function, liver function, and clinical outcome of patients receiving abdominal operation.

Methods: Forty patients undergoing elective abdominal surgical treatment were randomly divided into 2 groups: study group (n = 20) and control group (n = 20). All patients received total parenteral nutrition (TPN) for up to 7 days during perioperative period. The study group received TPN supplemented with GLN dipeptide while the control group received TPN without GLN dipeptide. Patients in both groups received equivalent nitrogen and caloric intake. Blood sample was taken on preoperative day, and the 1st, 3rd, 6th postoperative day to measure GSH level, immune indexes, and liver function indexes.

Results: The decrease of GSH level in plasma and red blood cell (RBC) in study group was less than that in control group during postoperative period. Ratio of GSH/glutathione disulfide (GSSG) in plasma in study group was higher than that in control group on the 3rd postoperative day (52.53 +/- 11.46 vs. 31.43 +/- 7.27, P = 0.001). Albumin level in study group was higher than that in control group on the 3rd postoperative day (37.7 +/- 3.8 g/L vs. 33.8 +/- 4.2 g/L, P = 0.02). There was no significant difference in the levels of immunoglobin (IgG, IgM, IgA) or T lymphocyte subgroup (CD4, CD8, CD4/CD8) in both groups during postoperative period. There was one case with infectious complication in control group, while none in study group. A trend of shortened hospital stay was observed in study group compared with control group (22.3 +/- 2.1 d vs. 24.9 +/- 1.7 d, P = 0.32).

Conclusions: Supplementation of GLN-enriched TPN has beneficial effects on maintaining GSH levels in plasma and RBC, sustaining GSH/GSSG ratio and albumin level, and keeping antioxidant abilities during postoperative period in patients with abdominal operation, with the trends of decreasing incidence of infectious complication and shortening hospital stay.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / surgery*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Glutamine / administration & dosage
  • Glutamine / therapeutic use*
  • Glutathione / blood
  • Glutathione Disulfide / blood
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / blood
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parenteral Nutrition
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / blood


  • Immunoglobulins
  • Serum Albumin
  • Glutamine
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione Disulfide