Glutamine supplementation in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy: a double-blind randomized study

Nutrition. 1997 Jul-Aug;13(7-8):748-51. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(97)83038-9.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of glutamine in preventing doxifluridine-induced diarrhea and the potential impact of glutamine on the tumor growth. We investigated 65 patients with advanced breast cancer receiving doxifluridine in a double-blind randomized fashion: 33 patients took glutamine (30 g/d, divided in 3 doses of 10 g each) for 8 consecutive days (5-12h) during each interval between chemotherapy, which was administered from day 1 to 4. Thirty-two patients took an equal dose of placebo (maltodextrine). The incidence of diarrhea was registered after each cycle of chemotherapy and severity was scored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Bethesda, Maryland, classification. The tumor response was evaluated by the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. A total of 278 and 259 cycles (median 10 cycles), respectively, were delivered in glutamine and placebo groups. There were 34 and 32 episodes of diarrhea in glutamine and placebo groups, with no statistical difference overall, in the severity and duration of tumor growth, there was no difference in the response rate (21% and 28% of complete or partial response, respectively), in median time to response (2 mo), or in median duration of response. In conclusion, glutamine did not prevent the occurrence of the doxifluridine-induced diarrhea and did not have any impact on tumor response to chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology
  • Diarrhea / prevention & control*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Floxuridine / adverse effects*
  • Glutamine / administration & dosage*
  • Glutamine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Incidence


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Floxuridine
  • Glutamine
  • doxifluridine