The role of glutamine in maintaining a healthy gut and supporting the metabolic response to injury and infection

J Surg Res. 1990 Apr;48(4):383-91. doi: 10.1016/0022-4804(90)90080-l.


In the critically ill surgical patient a variety of therapeutic maneuvers is required to maintain a "healthy gut." Provision of adequate amounts of glutamine to the gastrointestinal mucosa appears to be just one of these maneuvers. Other methods utilized to protect the gut from becoming a wound include: (a) minimizing additional systemic insults (such as hypotension, sepsis, multiple operative procedures); (b) aggressive pulmonary care; (c) the judicious use of antibiotics; and (d) aggressive enteral or parenteral feedings. The concept that the gut is an organ of quiescence following surgical stress merits reconsideration. The intestinal tract plays a central role in interorgan glutamine metabolism and is a key regulator of nitrogen handling following surgical stress. Critically ill patients are susceptible to developing gut-origin sepsis, the incidence of which will be diminished by instituting measures and providing treatments which support intestinal structure, function, and metabolism. Provision of glutamine-enriched diets to such patients may be one of these therapies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glutamine / metabolism
  • Glutamine / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infections / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Diseases / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / injuries
  • Intestines / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Stress, Physiological / metabolism
  • Wounds and Injuries / metabolism


  • Glutamine