Glutamine, the most abundant free amino acid in the human body, is a major substrate utilized by intestinal cells. The roles of glutamine in intestinal physiology and management of multiple intestinal diseases have been reported. In gut physiology, glutamine promotes enterocyte proliferation, regulates tight junction proteins, suppresses pro-inflammatory signaling pathways, and protects cells against apoptosis and cellular stresses during normal and pathologic conditions. As glutamine stores are depleted during severe metabolic stress including trauma, sepsis, and inflammatory bowel diseases, glutamine supplementation has been examined in patients to improve their clinical outcomes. In this review, we discuss the physiological roles of glutamine for intestinal health and its underlying mechanisms. In addition, we discuss the current evidence for the efficacy of glutamine supplementation in intestinal diseases.
Keywords: glutamine; inflammatory bowel disease; intestinal function; nutritional therapy; short bowel syndrome.