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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Apr;280(4):E669-75.

Glutamine supplementation promotes anaplerosis but not oxidative energy delivery in human skeletal muscle.

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Human Muscle Metabolism Research Group, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, United Kingdom.


The aims of the present study were twofold: first to investigate whether TCA cycle intermediate (TCAI) pool expansion at the onset of moderate-intensity exercise in human skeletal muscle could be enhanced independently of pyruvate availability by ingestion of glutamine or ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate, and second, if it was, whether this modification of TCAI pool expansion had any effect on oxidative energy status during subsequent exercise. Seven males cycled for 10 min at approximately 70% maximal O2) uptake 1 h after consuming either an artificially sweetened placebo (5 ml/kg body wt solution, CON), 0.125 g/kg body wt L-(+)-ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate dissolved in 5 ml/kg body wt solution (OKG), or 0.125 g/kg body wt L-glutamine dissolved in 5 ml/kg body wt solution (GLN). Vastus lateralis muscle was biopsied 1 h postsupplement and after 10 min of exercise. The sum of four measured TCAI (SigmaTCAI; citrate, malate, fumarate, and succinate, approximately 85% of total TCAI pool) was not different between conditions 1 h postsupplement. However, after 10 min of exercise, SigmaTCAI (mmol/kg dry muscle) was greater in the GLN condition (4.90 +/- 0.61) than in the CON condition (3.74 +/- 0.38, P < 0.05) and the OKG condition (3.85 +/- 0.28). After 10 min of exercise, muscle phosphocreatine (PCr) content was significantly reduced (P < 0.05) in all conditions, but there was no significant difference between conditions. We conclude that the ingestion of glutamine increased TCAI pool size after 10 min of exercise most probably because of the entry of glutamine carbon at the level of alpha-ketoglutarate. However, this increased expansion in the TCAI pool did not appear to increase oxidative energy production, because there was no sparing of PCr during exercise.

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