Metabolic response of muscle to alanine, glutamine, and valine supplementation during severe illness

Dennis C. Gore, Robert R. Wolfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Alanine and glutamine are released from muscle in response to critical illness. Subsequent depletion of glutamine from muscle is proposed as a principal factor in the limitation of muscle protein synthesis in severely ill patients. The objective of this study was to assess the peripheral metabolic response to enteral supplementation of alanine, glutamine, and valine in critically ill patients. Methods: Isotopic tracers of alanine, glutamine, and phenylalanine were given IV to 6 critically ill patients and 6 healthy volunteers. Blood sampling from the femoral artery and vein along with muscle biopsies provided assessment of leg (ie, muscle) kinetics. Measurements were obtained during enteral nutrition alone and then with combined alanine (11.25 g), glutamine (7.5 g) and valine (11.25 g) supplementation for 3 hours. Results: Compared with healthy volunteers, critically ill patients had significantly reduced concentrations of alanine and glutamine in arterial plasma (p < .05), which increased significantly with amino acid supplementation. Muscle glutamine concentrations were significantly less in the patients and were not significantly affected by supplementation. Alanine and glutamine transport into and out of muscle and the rates of alanine and glutamine incorporation into and production from muscle were not affected by supplementation. Phenylalanine kinetics, as a marker of muscle protein metabolism, were not significantly altered by alanine, glutamine, and valine intake. Conclusions: These results demonstrate that alanine, glutamine, and valine administration fails to significantly affect muscle glutamine availability or muscle protein metabolism. These findings suggest that accelerated muscle catabolism in critically ill patients is not in response to any deficiency in alanine or glutamine availability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-314
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Metabolic response of muscle to alanine, glutamine, and valine supplementation during severe illness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this