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Ann Surg. 1992 Feb;215(2):114-9.

Glutamine preserves liver glutathione after lethal hepatic injury.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115.


Glutathione (GSH) is a major antioxidant that protects tissues from free radical injury. Glutamine augments host defenses and may be important in GSH synthesis. Acetaminophen toxicity causes hepatic GSH depletion and hepatic necrosis. The authors hypothesized that glutamine-supplemented nutrition would enhance liver GSH stores and diminish hepatic injury and death after acetaminophen overdose. Wistar rats received either a standard total parenteral nutrition (TPN) solution (STD) or an isocaloric, isonitrogenous glutamine-supplemented solution (GLN). On the 5th day of feeding, animals were given acetaminophen (400 mg/kg intraperitoneally) and then killed at various time points. Standard TPN solution animals had a rapid depletion of hepatic glutathione, whereas GLN animals were resistant to this drop and rapidly repleted hepatic GSH stores. Glutamine-supplemented animals maintained higher plasma glutamine concentrations, had lesser elevations in hepatic enzymes, and sustained significantly fewer complications compared with STD animals. The authors conclude that glutamine-supplemented nutrition preserves hepatic glutathione, protects the liver, and improves survival during acetaminophen toxicity. Glutamine may augment host defenses by enhancing antioxidant protection.

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