Glutamine Enhances Digestive Immunity
Infants who are breast-fed have been shown to have a lower incidence of certain infectious diseases compared with formula-fed infants. Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids found in maternal milk and it is essential for the function of immune system cells such as macrophages. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of glutamine supplementation on the function of peritoneal macrophages and on hemopoiesis in early-weaned mice inoculated with Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG). Mice were weaned at 14 d of age and distributed to 2 groups and fed either a glutamine-free diet (n = 16) or a glutamine-supplemented diet (+Gln) (n = 16). Both diets were isonitrogenous (with addition of a mixture of nonessential amino acids) and isocaloric. At d 21, 2 subgroups of mice (n = 16) were intraperitoneally injected with BCG and all mice were killed at d 28. Plasma, muscle and liver glutamine concentrations and muscle glutamine synthetase activity were not affected by diet or inoculation with BCG. The +Gln diet led to increased leukocyte and lymphocyte counts in the peripheral blood (P < 0.05) and granulocyte and lymphocyte counts in the bone marrow and spleen (P < 0.05). The +Gln diet increased spreading and adhesion capacities, hydrogen peroxide, nitric oxide, and tumor necrosis factor- (TNF) syntheses and the phagocytic and fungicidal activity of peritoneal macrophages (P < 0.05). The interaction between the +Gln diet and BCG inoculation increased the area under the curve of interleukin (IL)-1β and TNF syntheses (P < 0.05). In conclusion, the intake of glutamine increases the function of peritoneal macrophages and hemopoiesis in early-weaned and BCG-inoculated mice. These data have important implications for the design of breast milk substitutes for human infants.
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