Total parenteral nutrition with glutamine dipeptide after major abdominal surgery: a randomized, double-blind, controlled study

Ann Surg. 1998 Feb;227(2):302-8. doi: 10.1097/00000658-199802000-00022.


Objective: To assess the efficacy of glutamine (Gln) dipeptide-enriched total parenteral nutrition (TPN) on selected metabolic, immunologic, and clinical variables in surgical patients.

Summary background data: Depletion of Gln stores might lead to severe clinical complications. Recent studies indicate that the parenteral provision of Gln or Gln-containing dipeptides improves nitrogen balance, maintains the intracellular Gln pool, preserves intestinal permeability and absorption, and shortens hospital stay.

Methods: Twenty-eight patients (age range, 42-86 years, mean 68 years) undergoing elective abdominal surgery were allocated, after randomization, to two groups to receive isonitrogenous (0.24 g nitrogen kg(-1) day(-1)) and isoenergetic (29 kcal/122 kJ kg(-1) day(-1)) TPN over 5 days. Controls received 1.5 g of amino acids kg(-1) day(-1), and the test group received 1.2 g of amino acids and 0.3 g of L-alanyl-L-glutamine (Ala-Gln) kg(-1) day(-1). Venous heparinized blood samples were obtained before surgery and on days 1, 3, and 6 after surgery for routine clinical chemistry and for the measurement of plasma free amino acids. Lymphocytes were counted and the generation of cysteinyl-leukotrienes from polymorphonuclear neutrophil granulocytes was analyzed before surgery and on days 1 and 6 after surgery. Nitrogen balances were calculated postoperatively on days 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Results: No side effects or complaints were noted. Patients receiving Gln dipeptide revealed improved nitrogen balances (cumulative balance over 5 days: -7.9 +/- 3.6 vs. -23.0 +/- 2.6 g nitrogen), improved lymphocyte recovery on day 6 (2.41 +/- 0.27 vs. 1.52 +/- 0.17 lymphocytes/nL) and improved generation of cysteinyl-leukotrienes from polymorphonuclear neutrophil granulocytes (25.7 +/- 4.89 vs. 5.03 +/- 3.11 ng/mL). Postoperative hospital stay was 6.2 days shorter in the dipeptide-supplemented group.

Conclusion: We confirm the beneficial effects of Gln dipeptide-supplemented TPN on nitrogen economy, maintenance of plasma Gln concentration, lymphocyte recovery, cysteinyl-leukotriene generation, and shortened hospital stay in surgical patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amino Acids / blood
  • Colonic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Dipeptides*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Rectal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Stress, Physiological / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Dipeptides
  • alanylglutamine