Glutamine is a principal fuel utilized by rapidly growing tumors. Advanced malignant disease results in muscle glutamine depletion and weight loss. Concern exists about providing dietary glutamine to the host with cancer since it may stimulate tumor growth. This study examined the effects of oral glutamine on muscle glutamine metabolism and tumor growth. Twenty-four rats with large sarcomas were pair fed a glutamine-enriched or glutamine-free elemental diet. Diets were isonitrogenous and isocaloric. After 6 days of feeding, the animals were anesthetized and arterial glutamine, hindquarter glutamine flux, muscle glutamine content, tumor weight, tumor DNA content, tumor glutaminase activity, and number of metaphase mitoses/high power field (HPF) in the tumor were determined. There was no difference in arterial glutamine between the two groups, but provision of a glutamine-enriched diet increased muscle glutamine content by 60% (2.31 ± 0.21 μmole/g tissue vs 1.44 ± 0.22 μmol/g tissue, P < 0.05), which supported muscle glutamine release. There were no differences among tumor DNA content, tumor glutaminase activity, or tumor weight and there was no difference histologically in the number of metaphase mitoses/HPF. Glutamine-enriched oral diets may replete host glutamine stores and support muscle glutamine metabolism without stimulating tumor growth.
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