Inhibition of Glutamine Metabolism Accelerates Resolution of Acute Lung Injury

Physiol Rep. 2019 Mar;7(5):e14019. doi: 10.14814/phy2.14019.


Despite recent advances, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) remains a severe and often fatal disease for which there is no therapy able to reduce the underlying excessive lung inflammation or enhance resolution of injury. Metabolic programming plays a critical role in regulating inflammatory responses. Due to their high metabolic needs, neutrophils, macrophages, and lymphocytes rely upon glutamine metabolism to support activation and function. Additionally, during times of physiologic stress, nearly all cells, including fibroblasts and epithelial cells, require glutamine metabolism. We hypothesized that inhibiting glutamine metabolism reduces lung inflammation and promotes resolution of acute lung injury. Lung injury was induced by instilling lipopolysaccharide (LPS) intratracheally. To inhibit glutamine metabolism, we administered a glutamine analogue, 6-diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine (DON) that binds to glutamine-utilizing enzymes and transporters, after injury was well established. Treatment with DON led to less lung injury, fewer lung neutrophils, lung inflammatory and interstitial macrophages, and lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines at 5 and/or 7 days after injury. Additionally, DON led to earlier expression of the growth factor amphiregulin and more rapid recovery of LPS-induced weight loss. Thus, DON reduced lung inflammation and promoted resolution of injury. These data contribute to our understanding of how glutamine metabolism regulates lung inflammation and repair, and identifies a novel target for future therapies for ARDS and other inflammatory lung diseases.

Keywords: Acute lung injury; amphiregulin; glutamine; inflammation; resolution of injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acute Lung Injury / chemically induced
  • Acute Lung Injury / metabolism
  • Acute Lung Injury / pathology
  • Acute Lung Injury / prevention & control*
  • Amphiregulin / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antimetabolites / pharmacology*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Diazooxonorleucine / pharmacology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Glutamine / metabolism*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neutrophil Infiltration / drug effects
  • Pneumonia / chemically induced
  • Pneumonia / metabolism
  • Pneumonia / pathology
  • Pneumonia / prevention & control*
  • Time Factors


  • Amphiregulin
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antimetabolites
  • Areg protein, mouse
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • lipopolysaccharide, E coli O55-B5
  • Diazooxonorleucine
  • Glutamine