Glutamine May Reduce Damage from Helicobacter pylori Infection

May 20, 2009

According to the result from a recent Beth Israel Deaconess study, glutamine may be effective in "offsetting gastric damage caused by [Helicobacter pylori] H. pylori infection."

Glutamine may be effective in “offsetting gastric damage caused by [Helicobacter pylori] H. pylori infection,” according to the results of a new study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The new results, which built upon previous findings that glutamine was protective against “cell death from H. pylori-produced ammonia,” showed that mice infected with H. pylori had increased expression “of three cytokines — interleukin 4, interleukin 10 and transforming growth factor-alpha mRNA,” all of which are important in the stomach’s ability to protect against damage from the infection, said Susan Hagen, PhD, Associate Director of Research in the Department of Surgery at BIDMC and Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School.

In the study, Hagen and her fellow researchers, including scientists from MIT, put 105 mice in two separate groups: one was fed a regular diet that contained 1.9% glutamine; and the second was given supplemental glutamine, at 6.9%, in place of carbohydrates. Two weeks later the mice were divided again, and given either a fake dose or a real dose with H. pylori. This, according to the researchers, resulted in four separate groups: “an uninfected control group; an uninfected glutamine group; an infected control group; and an infected glutamine group.”

In addition to the mice who demonstrated an increased expression of the three cytokines after six weeks, the mice infected with H. pylori that were given the glutamine diet showed “lower levels of inflammation” at week 20 than those on the standard, control diet.

“Because many of the stomach pathologies during H. pylori infection [including cancer progression] are linked to high levels of inflammation, this result provides us with preliminary evidence that glutamine supplementation may be an alternative therapy for reducing the severity of infection,” said Hagen.

She added that “an inexpensive, easy-to-use treatment could be used to modify the damaging effects of H. pylori infection warrants further study in clinical trials.”

Results of the study were published in the Journal of Nutrition.