Is there a correlation between circulating levels of citrulline and intestinal dysfunction in the critically ill?

Nutr Clin Pract. 2012 Aug;27(4):527-32. doi: 10.1177/0884533612449360. Epub 2012 Jun 15.


Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the correlation between plasma citrulline and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II (APACHE II) score, survival, inflammation (C-reactive protein [CRP]), inotrope use, serum levels of prealbumin and albumin, and renal failure in the critically ill patient.

Methods: This prospective observational single-center controlled study included 91 adult patients over a 2-year period. Inclusion criteria were patients staying in the intensive care unit for >48 hours. Patients' renal status was categorized as those with a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) >60 mL/min without renal support, a GFR >60 mL/min with renal support, a GFR <60 mL/min without renal support, and a GFR <60 mL/min with renal support. Plasma citrulline concentrations were categorized into 3 groups: low (0-15 µmol/L), medium (16-35 µmol/L), and high (>36 µmol/L). The relationship between the recorded parameters and these different cut-off values of plasma citrulline concentrations was analyzed.

Results: Ninety-one patients (34% female and 66% male) with a mean (SD) age of 69.3 (11.9) years, a mean (SD) body mass index of 24.8 (5.34) kg/m(2), a mean (SD) APACHE II score of 22.4 (7.92), a mean (SD) SOFA score of 8 (4.4), and a mean (SD) plasma citrulline of 21.7 (13.1) µmol/L were enrolled. Only patients with intestinal dysfunction had low plasma citrulline level <15 µmol/L (P = .014). No correlations between serum levels of CRP, albumin, or prealbumin; renal failure; inotrope use; SOFA score; and APACHE II score were found with plasma citrulline level.

Conclusion: Low plasma citrulline levels in patients correlate well with intestinal dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / blood
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Citrulline / blood*
  • Critical Illness / therapy
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Intestines / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prealbumin / analysis
  • Prealbumin / metabolism
  • Prospective Studies


  • Prealbumin
  • Citrulline
  • C-Reactive Protein