Send to

Choose Destination
Crit Care Med. 1999 Oct;27(10):2252-6.

Glutamate-containing parenteral nutrition doubles plasma glutamate: a risk factor in neurosurgical patients with blood-brain barrier damage?

Author information

Institute for Neurosurgical Pathophysiology, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany.



Animal studies have shown that the elevation of plasma glutamate levels increase cerebral edema formation whenever the blood-brain barrier is disturbed. Therefore, changes in plasma glutamate levels as influenced by the administration of a glutamate-containing amino acid solution were investigated in neurosurgical patients.


Prospective, descriptive study.


Eight-bed neurosurgical intensive care unit in a university hospital.


Twenty-three neurosurgical patients requiring parenteral nutrition.


Parenteral nutrition was begun 24 hrs after craniotomy. Patients receiving a glutamate-containing amino acid solution (3.75 g/L glutamate) were compared with patients infused with a glutamate-free solution.


Arterial plasma and urine amino acids were analyzed using high-performance liquid chromatography. Administration of a glutamate-containing solution doubled plasma glutamate levels in neurosurgical patients (from 53.3 +/- 9.8 microM [preinfusion] to 98.5 +/- 18.7 microM [after 4 hrs of infusion]; p < 0.001), whereas no elevation was seen when infusing a glutamate-free solution (from 52.3 +/- 7.3 [1 hr of infusion] to 53.6 +/- 6.4 microM [4 hrs of infusion]). Upon terminating the glutamate-containing infusion, arterial plasma glutamate levels decreased immediately (from 120 +/- 13.2 microM to 81.2 +/- 19.5 microM). Glutamate as infused in excess appears to exceed a renal threshold and is eliminated renally.


As shown in animal models, administration of a glutamate-containing amino acid solution significantly increased plasma glutamate levels. Because such an increase in plasma glutamate levels could aggravate cerebral edema formation, glutamate-containing amino acid solutions cannot be recommended for patients with a disturbed blood-brain barrier.

Comment in

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wolters Kluwer
Loading ...
Support Center