Effect of long-term oral glutamine supplements on small intestinal permeability in patients with Crohn's disease

JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. Jan-Feb 1999;23(1):7-11. doi: 10.1177/014860719902300107.


Background: Glutamine is a major fuel and an important nitrogen source for the small intestinal cell. It plays a key role in maintaining mucosal cell integrity and gut barrier function. Increased permeability may be a factor in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease and may be an interesting parameter in the follow-up of the disease. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine whether oral glutamine supplements are able to restore an increased intestinal permeability in patients with Crohn's disease.

Methods: The inclusion criteria for the study were Crohn's disease and a disturbed small intestinal permeability for 51Cr-EDTA. Of 38 patients screened, 18 had an increased permeability (6 hours urinary excretion >1.1% of label recovered in urine). Fourteen patients were included in the study and were randomized to receive either oral glutamine (7 g three times per day; n = 7) or placebo (7 g glycine three times per day; n = 7) in addition to their normal treatment during a 4-week period. The study was performed in a double-blind manner.

Results: Baseline permeability (mean +/- SD) was 2.32%+/-0.77% dose in the glutamine group and 2.29%+/-0.67% dose in the placebo group. Permeability did not change significantly after glutamine (3.26%+/-2.15% dose) or after placebo (2.27%+/-1.32% dose). There was no significant effect on plasma glutamine, plasma glutamate, plasma ammonium, Crohn's disease activity index, C-reactive protein, or nutritional status.

Conclusions: Oral glutamine supplements, in the dose administered, do not seem to restore impaired permeability in patients with Crohn's disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy*
  • Crohn Disease / metabolism
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Glutamine / blood
  • Glutamine / pharmacology
  • Glutamine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / drug effects*
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism
  • Male
  • Permeability / drug effects


  • Glutamine