Conclusion

Glutamine depletion in vivo results in immunosuppression, and catabolic-stress situations in humans are associated with lowered plasma (and muscle) glutamine levels. Glutamine is used at a high rate by cells of the immune system and there is much evidence that key functions of these cells, tested in vitro, are dependent upon the provision of glutamine. Evidence is now emerging that glutamine supplied orally or intravenously improves immune function in vivo and in cells cultured ex vivo, while additionally protecting against infectious challenges. Thus, administration of glutamine or its precursors should prove beneficial as a therapy for individuals whose immune system is compromised by catabolic stress. Nevertheless, more information is required about the mechanism by which glutamine provides beneficial effects for cells of the immune system in vivo and in vitro, whether this mechanism is altered in disease states and the importance of the route of glutamine administration.

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