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      Amino acids and immune function

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          Abstract

          A deficiency of dietary protein or amino acids has long been known to impair immune function and increase the susceptibility of animals and humans to infectious disease. However, only in the past 15 years have the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms begun to unfold. Protein malnutrition reduces concentrations of most amino acids in plasma. Findings from recent studies indicate an important role for amino acids in immune responses by regulating: (1) the activation of T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, natural killer cells and macrophages; (2) cellular redox state, gene expression and lymphocyte proliferation; and (3) the production of antibodies, cytokines and other cytotoxic substances. Increasing evidence shows that dietary supplementation of specific amino acids to animals and humans with malnutrition and infectious disease enhances the immune status, thereby reducing morbidity and mortality. Arginine, glutamine and cysteine precursors are the best prototypes. Because of a negative impact of imbalance and antagonism among amino acids on nutrient intake and utilisation, care should be exercised in developing effective strategies of enteral or parenteral provision for maximum health benefits. Such measures should be based on knowledge about the biochemistry and physiology of amino acids, their roles in immune responses, nutritional and pathological states of individuals and expected treatment outcomes. New knowledge about the metabolism of amino acids in leucocytes is critical for the development of effective means to prevent and treat immunodeficient diseases. These nutrients hold great promise in improving health and preventing infectious diseases in animals and humans.

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          Most cited references 140

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          Maternal nutrition and fetal development.

          Nutrition is the major intrauterine environmental factor that alters expression of the fetal genome and may have lifelong consequences. This phenomenon, termed "fetal programming," has led to the recent theory of "fetal origins of adult disease." Namely, alterations in fetal nutrition and endocrine status may result in developmental adaptations that permanently change the structure, physiology, and metabolism of the offspring, thereby predisposing individuals to metabolic, endocrine, and cardiovascular diseases in adult life. Animal studies show that both maternal undernutrition and overnutrition reduce placental-fetal blood flows and stunt fetal growth. Impaired placental syntheses of nitric oxide (a major vasodilator and angiogenesis factor) and polyamines (key regulators of DNA and protein synthesis) may provide a unified explanation for intrauterine growth retardation in response to the 2 extremes of nutritional problems with the same pregnancy outcome. There is growing evidence that maternal nutritional status can alter the epigenetic state (stable alterations of gene expression through DNA methylation and histone modifications) of the fetal genome. This may provide a molecular mechanism for the impact of maternal nutrition on both fetal programming and genomic imprinting. Promoting optimal nutrition will not only ensure optimal fetal development, but will also reduce the risk of chronic diseases in adults.
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            Why is L-glutamine metabolism important to cells of the immune system in health, postinjury, surgery or infection?

             P Newsholme (2001)
            Glutamine is normally considered to be a nonessential amino acid. However, recent studies have provided evidence that glutamine may become "conditionally essential" during inflammatory conditions such as infection and injury. It is now well documented that under appropriate conditions, glutamine is essential for cell proliferation, that it can act as a respiratory fuel and that it can enhance the function of stimulated immune cells. Studies thus far have determined the effect of extracellular glutamine concentration on lymphocyte proliferation and cytokine production, macrophage phagocytic plus secretory activities and neutrophil bacterial killing. Other cells of the immune system remain to be studied. The high rate of glutamine utilization and its importance to the function of lymphocytes, macrophages and neutrophils have raised the question "why glutamine?" because these cells have access to a variety of metabolic fuels both in vivo and in vitro. I have attempted to answer this question in this article. Additionally, knowledge of the rate of utilization and the pathway of metabolism of glutamine by cells of the immune system raises some intriguing questions concerning therapeutic manipulation of utilization of this amino acid such that the proliferative, phagocytic and secretory capacities of cells of the defense system may be beneficially altered. Evidence to support the hypothesis that glutamine is beneficially immunomodulatory in animal models of infection and trauma, as well as trauma in humans, is provided.
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              Glutamine and glutamate--their central role in cell metabolism and function.

              Glucose is widely accepted as the primary nutrient for maintenance and promotion of cell function. However, we propose that the 5-carbon amino acids, glutamine and glutamate, should be considered to be equally important for maintenance and promotion of cell function. The functions of glutamine are many and include: substrate for protein synthesis, anabolic precursor for muscle growth, acid-base balance in the kidney, substrate for ureogenesis in the liver, substrate for hepatic and renal gluconeogenesis, an oxidative fuel for intestine and cells of the immune system, inter-organ nitrogen transport, precursor for neurotransmitter synthesis, precursor for nucleotide and nucleic acid synthesis and precursor for glutathione production. Many of these functions are connected to the formation of glutamate from glutamine. We propose that the unique properties regarding concentration and routes of metabolism of these amino acids allow them to be used for a diverse array of processes related to the specialized function of each of the glutamine utilizing cells. In this review we highlight the specialized aspects of glutamine/glutamate metabolism of different glutamine-utilizing cells and in each case relate key aspects of metabolism to cell function. Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                British Journal of Nutrition
                Br J Nutr
                Cambridge University Press (CUP)
                0007-1145
                1475-2662
                August 2007
                August 01 2007
                August 2007
                : 98
                : 2
                : 237-252
                Article
                10.1017/S000711450769936X
                17403271
                © 2007

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