Glutamine is an \(\alpha\) – amino acid that is in use in the biosynthesis of proteins. The side chain of glutamine is similar to that of glutamic acid. The only difference is carboxylic acid group is replaced by an amide. It is a charge-neutral, polar amino acid. It is non-essential and conditionally important in humans that means the body can synthesize sufficient amounts of it. In some instances of stress, the body’s demand for glutamine increases, and glutamine is obtained from the diet. It is encoded by CAA and CAG. Glutamine is abundant free amino acid in the human body. It is one of the non-essential amino acids. It is one of the important amino acids in situations such as gastrointestinal disorders or intensive athletic training.


Introduction to Glutamine

This amino acid is one of the twenty amino acids that are needed by humans and animals to function properly. This element is vital in the synthesis of protein, donation of carbon and nitrogen and for the cellular energy as well as for the functioning of the kidney.

This amino acid plays an important role when related to stress. Stress is caused by trauma, burns, excessive exercise and various diseases like cancer. It often results in glutamine deficiency. It provides many important functions and also develops supplement helping the body to recover from the stress.

The essential amino acids are the ones that are necessary for our diets as the body does not build them for any other chemicals. The non-essential amino acids in the body are synthesized by our body from other chemicals. The dietary sources of glutamine are protein-rich foods such as beef, chicken, fish, dairy products, eggs,  vegetables like beans,  beets, cabbage, spinach, carrots, parsley, vegetable juices, wheat, papaya, Brussels sprouts, celery, kale, etc. and fermented foods like miso.

Functions of Glutamine

Glutamine plays an important role in different biochemical functions:

  • Glutamine helps in the synthesis of lipids in cancer cells.
  • Cellular energy, as a source that is next to glucose
  • Glutamine is a non-toxic transporter of ammonia in blood circulation.
  • The integrity of healthy intestinal mucosa. It is though small randomized trials have shown no benefit in Crohn’s disease
  • Glutamine helps in the synthesis of proteins in the human body as any other of the 20 proteinogenic amino acids
  • Glutamine helps the body in the formation of energy and this amino acid is said to be the highest concentration of a free-floating amino acid within the blood.
  • It has the capability of donating nitrogen atoms in various processes such as anabolic, metabolic, cell divisions, etc including the synthesis of purines. Carbon donation for refilling the citric acid cycle
  • Glutamine helps in regulating the acid-base balance within the kidneys by producing enough amount of ammonium.

FAQs on Glutamine

Question 1: Explain the structure of glutamine.

Answer: The side chain of this glutamine is a simple amide or amino group \(-NH^2\). It is at the end region of the R-group. It has a group called the carboxylic group on the other end of the carbon atom. Glutamine is a linear molecule that behaves as a polar molecule with positive and negative charges. The amino acid is considered to be water-loving because it is polar.

Glutamine consists of other 2-molecules i.e., glutamate and ammonia with the use of an enzyme that is glutamine synthetase. This is done in the muscles and the lungs, brain tissues and the liver.

Question 2: Is glutamine safe?

Answer: It is safe in adults and preterm infants. Glutamine is metabolized to glutamate and ammonia. It has some neurological effects; their concentrations are not increased much. It has no adverse neurological effects. The safe level for supplemental L-glutamine in normal healthy adults is 14 g/day.

Adverse effects of glutamine have been given for people receiving home parenteral nutrition and for those with liver-function abnormalities. Although it has no effect on the proliferation of tumour cells. It is still possible that glutamine supplementation can be detrimental in some cancer types.

Ceasing glutamine supplementation in people adapted to very high consumption may start a withdrawal effect by raising the risk of health problems such as infections or impaired integrity of the intestine.

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