A recent study compared the effects of feeding mice for 2 weeks on a diet that included 200 g casein kg-1, providing 19.6 g glutamine kg-1, or a glutamine-enriched diet, which provided 54.8 g glutamine kg-1, partly at the expense of casein. Spleen lymphocytes from mice fed on the glutamine-enriched diet proliferated better in response to Con A than those from mice fed on the control diet (Kew et al., 1999). The glutamine-enriched diet also increased the proportion of CD4+ lymphocytes in the spleen and increased the proportion of stimulated lymphocytes bearing the IL-2 receptor. IL-2, but not IFN-7, production was significantly greater for Con A-stimulated spleen lymphocytes from mice fed the glutamine-enriched diet (Kew et al., 1999), while the production of all three cytokines investigated (TNF-a, IL-1p and IL-6) was greater for LPS-stim-ulated macrophages from mice fed the glutamine-enriched diet (Wells et al., 1999). These observations suggest that increasing the amount of glutamine in the murine diet enhances the ability of both macrophages and T lymphocytes to respond to stimulation, at least in terms of cytokine production. Feeding rats a glutamine-free diet for 7 days resulted in decreased mucosal wet weight and a decreased number of intraepithelial lymphocytes (Horvath et al., 1996). This study suggests that glutamine is required for maintenance of the gut-associated immune system.
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