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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 1998 Dec;30(12):1331-6.

The role of glutamine, serum and energy factors in growth of enterocyte-like cell lines.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Sweden.



Glutamine is routinely added to most cell cultures. Glutamine has been found to be the preferential nutrient to the rapidly replicating intestinal mucosa, but whether this is a metabolic effect or due to other properties of this amino acid is not determined. To study the importance of glutamine on the growth of two enterocyte-like cell lines, the effects of depriving the media or supplementing it with glutamine were assessed in media with different serum and energy supplements.


CaCo-2 and HT-29 cells were grown in serum-free medium, with fetal bovine or synthetic serum, and with or without glucose or galactose. The glutamine content was varied between 0 and 4 mM. All growth assays were performed in triplicate by counting in a hemocytometer.


Both cell lines were dependent of serum factors for growth, but displayed distinct requirements on glutamine supplementation. Glutamine was an obligate supplement with dose-dependent correlation to growth (r = 0.87, p < 0.01) for CaCo-2 cells cultured in synthetic, but not in fetal bovine serum. In HT-29 cells, the correlation between glutamine and growth was significant (r = 0.68, p < 0.05) only in fetal bovine serum in the absence of galactose.


This study shows that glutamine has different growth stimulating effects on two enterocyte-like cell lines studied. This could reflect different modes of action of glutamine on proliferation and differentiation in an enterocyte cell population.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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