Oral glutamine supplementation increases seizure severity in a rodent model of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy

Nutr Neurosci. 2022 Jan;25(1):64-69. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2019.1708568. Epub 2020 Jan 3.


Background: Glutamine synthetase (GS) is the only enzyme known to synthesize significant amounts of glutamine in mammals, and loss of GS in the hippocampus has been implicated in the pathophysiology of medication refractory mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE). Moreover, loss-of-function mutations of the GS gene causes severe epileptic encephalopathy, and supplementation with glutamine has been shown to normalize EEG and possibly improve the outcome in these patients. Here we examined whether oral glutamine supplementation is an effective treatment for MTLE by assessing the frequency and severity of seizures after supplementation in a translationally relevant model of the disease.Methods: Male Sprague Dawley rats (380-400 g) were allowed to drink unlimited amounts of glutamine in water (3.6% w/v; n = 8) or pure water (n = 8) for several weeks. Ten days after the start of glutamine supplementation, GS was chronically inhibited in the hippocampus to induce MTLE. Continuous video-intracranial EEG was collected for 21 days to determine the frequency and severity of seizures.Results: While there was no change in seizure frequency between the groups, the proportion of convulsive seizures was significantly higher in glutamine treated animals during the first three days of GS inhibition.Conclusion: The results suggest that oral glutamine supplementation transiently increases seizure severity in the initial stages of an epilepsy model, indicating a potential role of the amino acid in seizure propagation and epileptogenesis.

Keywords: Entorhinal cortex; epileptogenesis; glutamine synthetase; hippocampus; methionine sulfoximine.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / etiology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Glutamate-Ammonia Ligase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glutamate-Ammonia Ligase / metabolism
  • Glutamine / administration & dosage*
  • Hippocampus / enzymology
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Seizures / chemically induced*
  • Severity of Illness Index*


  • Glutamine
  • Glutamate-Ammonia Ligase