Metabolic functions

Glutamine is essential for maintaining many homeostatic functions and for the optimal functioning of a number of body tissues, most importantly the gut and immune system. Glutamine is the most versatile amino acid and has several key regulatory functions in the body. It plays a central role in acid-base homeostasis, is a precursor for nucleic acids and nucleotide biosynthesis, is used in the synthesis of amino sugars, and participates in interorgan nitrogen transport. Glutamine is a key anapleuretic, energy-yielding substrate under conditions of hypoxia, anoxia, and dysoxia, and a key gluconeogenic metabolite under normal postabsorptive conditions.3 Additionally, glutamine is an important component of the flavor- and taste-enhancing compound monosodium glutamate. Table 14.1 summarizes the metabolic functions of glutamine. However, under catabolic states, such as exhaustive exercise, infection, surgery, and trauma, skeletal glutamine reserves are depleted, making this amino acid a conditionally essential amino acid.

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