Background: Increased intestinal permeability (IP) has been implicated in the etiopathogenesis, disease activity and relapse of Crohn's disease (CD). Glutamine, the major fuel for the enterocytes, may improve IP.
Aim: We evaluated the effect of oral glutamine on IP and intestinal morphology in patients with CD.
Methods: In a randomized controlled trial, consecutive patients with CD in remission phase with an abnormal IP were randomized to a glutamine group (GG) or active control group (ACG) and were given oral glutamine or whey protein, respectively, as 0.5 g/kg ideal body weight/day for 2 months. IP was assessed by the lactulose mannitol excretion ratio (LMR) in urine, and morphometry was performed by computerized image analysis system.
Results: Patients (age 34.5 ± 10.5 years; 20 males) were assigned to the GG (n = 15) or ACG (n = 15). Fourteen patients in each group completed the trial. The LMR [median (range)] in GG and ACG at 2 months was 0.029 (0.006-0.090) and 0.033 (0.009-0.077), respectively, with P = 0.6133. IP normalized in 8 (57.1%) patients in each group (P = 1.000). The villous crypt ratio (VCR) [mean (SD)] in GG and ACG at 2 months was 2.68 (1.02) and 2.49 (0.67), respectively, (P = 0.347). At the end of 2 months LMR improved significantly in GG from 0.071 (0.041-0.254) to 0.029 (0.006-0.090) (P = 0.0012) and in ACG from 0.067 (0.040-0.136) to 0.033 (0.009-0.077) (P = 0.0063). VCR improved in the GG from 2.33 (0.77) to 2.68 (1.02) (P = 0.001), and in ACG from 2.26 (0.57) to 2.49 (0.67) (P = 0.009).
Conclusions: Intestinal permeability and morphology improved significantly in both glutamine and ACG.