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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Thomas R. Ziegler, M.D., Suite GG-23, General Clinical Research Center, Emory University Hospital, 1364 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322. Phone: (404) 727-7351; Fax: (404) 727-5563; E-mail: tzieg01@emory.edu


Research Funding:

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases : NIDDK

National Center for Research Resources : NCRR


  • glutamine
  • enteral nutrition
  • parenteral nutrition
  • critical illness

Metabolic effects of enteral versus parenteral alanyl-glutamine dipeptide administration in critically ill patients receiving enteral feeding: a pilot study

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Journal Title:

Clinical Nutrition


Volume 27, Number 2


, Pages 297-306

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Background Glutamine (Gln) may become conditionally indispensable during critical illness. The short-term metabolic effects of enteral versus parenteral Gln supplementation are unknown in this clinical setting. Objectives We studied metabolic effects of intravenous (IV) alanyl-Gln dipeptide (AG) supplementation and enteral (EN) AG supplementation on plasma Gln concentration, antioxidant status, plasma lymphocyte subset number, gut permeability and nitrogen balance in adult critically ill patients requiring tube feeding compared to a control group not receiving Gln supplementation. Methods In a double-blind, pilot clinical trial, forty-four medical and surgical ICU patients received identical Gln-free tube feedings 24 h/day and were randomized to either isonitrogenous control (n=15), EN AG (n=15) or IV AG (n=14) groups (AG). Twelve patients were discontinued from the study. The goal AG dose was 0.5 g/kg/day. Biochemical and metabolic endpoints were measured at baseline and on day 9 (plasma Gln, antioxidant indices, lymphocyte subsets; serum IGF-1 and IGF binding protein-3; intestinal permeability). Nitrogen balance was determined between study days 6 to 8. Results Illness severity indices, clinical demographics, enteral energy and nitrogen intake and major biochemical indices were similar between groups during study. Plasma Gln was higher in the IV AG (565±119 μM, mean±SEM) vs the EN AG (411±27μM) group by day 9 (P=0.039); however, subjects in the IV AG group received a higher dose of AG (IV AG 0.50 versus EN AG 0.32±0.02 g/kg/day; P<0.001). EN AG subjects showed a significant increase in plasma γ-tocopherol levels over time and maintained plasma γ-tocopherol concentrations. There were no differences between groups for plasma concentrations of vitamin C, glutathione, malondialdehyde (MDA), T-lymphocyte subsets, intestinal permeability or nitrogen balance. Conclusions This study showed that alanyl-Gln administration by enteral or parenteral routes did not appear to affect antioxidant capacity or oxidative stress markers, T-lymphocyte subset (CD-3, CD-4, CD-8) number, gut barrier function or whole-body protein metabolism compared to unsupplemented ICU patients requiring enteral tube feeding. Enteral Gln appeared to maintain plasma tocopherol levels in this pilot metabolic study.

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This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

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