The Role of Glutamine in the Complex Interaction between Gut Microbiota and Health: A Narrative Review

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Oct 22;20(20):5232. doi: 10.3390/ijms20205232.


The scientific literature has demonstrated that glutamine is one of the main beneficial amino acids. It plays an important role in gut microbiota and immunity. This paper provides a critical overview of experimental studies (in vitro, in vivo, and clinical) investigating the efficacy of glutamine and its effect on gut microbiota. As a result of this review, we have summarized that glutamine could affect gut microbiota via different mechanisms including the reduction in the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes, with the activation of NF-κB and PI3K-Akt pathways, reducing the intestinal colonization (Eimeria lesions) and bacterial overgrowth or bacterial translocation, increasing the production of secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) and immunoglobulin A+ (IgA+) cells in the intestinal lumen, and decreasing asparagine levels. The potential applications of glutamine on gut microbiota include, but are not limited to, the management of obesity, bacterial translocation and community, cytokines profiles, and the management of side effects during post-chemotherapy and constipation periods. Further studies and reviews are needed regarding the effects of glutamine supplementation on other conditions in humans.

Keywords: amino acids; diet; glutamate; glutamine; gut; microbiome; microbiota; obesity.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Glutamine / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Disorders / metabolism
  • Nutrition Disorders / microbiology*


  • Glutamine