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Glutamine
Research and Studies

The amino acid glutamine appears to play a role in several aspects of human physiology that might benefit athletes, including their muscle function and immune system. Antonio J, Street C. Glutamine: a potentially useful supplement for athletes. Can J Appl Physiol 1999;24:1–14 [review].

Intense exercise lowers blood levels of glutamine, which can remain persistently low with overtraining. Rowbottom DG, Keast D, Morton AR. The emerging role of glutamine as an indicator of exercise stress and overtraining. Sports Med 1996;21:80–97 [review].

During exercise or other times of metabolic stress (e.g. fasting, severe injury, illness, etc.), the demand for plasma glutamine markedly increases. For instance, various cells of the immune system such as the lymphocytes and macrophages depend on glutamine as a primary fuel source, and thus the demand for glutamine increases when an immunological response is mounted . Castell LM, Poortmans JR, Newsholme EA. Does glutamine have a role in reducing infections in athletes? Eur J Appl Physiol. 1996;73:488-90.

The past decade has seen a number of advances in brain research—perhaps none more relevant and important than the confirmation that protein may be an essential key to maintaining brain function. In two reports—the first from the University of California, Davis, and the second from the University of Paris—researchers confirmed that optimal amino acid levels (the building blocks of protein) play a key role in maintaining brain health (Gietzen 1993; Tapiero 2002).
University of Paris researchers looked at the amino acid L-glutamine and reported their results in the journal Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy. They found that L-glutamine seems to contribute to learning and memory by strengthening synapses (the connections between the nerves) in the brain. Indeed, they said L-glutamine has a “high priority” in brain health, “clearly playing an important role” (Tapiero 2002). If deficiencies in this amino acid occur, difficulties in nerve transmission can result.


A 2001 Norwegian report that appeared in Progressive Neurobiology suggested that a by-product of L-glutamine metabolism is directly involved in the basic functioning of synapses and receptors in the brain and is modulated by sets of transporters that dispatch these signals. “Glutamine transporters are somehow involved in almost all aspects of normal brain activity,” the researcher asserted (Danbolt 2001.The second study, performed by a group of researchers in Wisconsin and published in Neurology, supports the essential benefits of L-glutamine. These researchers examined 18 deteriorating brains and noted a marked deficiency in glutamine levels as compared with 12 control brains in which this deficiency was not present (Antuono 2001).

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