Glutamine is released into the circulation from muscle continuously in healthy people and especially in those with catabolic illness. The glutamine in the circulation is an important nutrient for immunocytes such as lymphocytes and for the mucosa of the intestine. In septic and malnourished patients, muscle glutamine is depleted, and it is hypothesized that in these patients the availability of glutamine for lymphocytes and the gut is reduced, resulting in increased risk of sepsis. Although enteral mixtures designed to improve immunity have given variable results, glutamine supplementation has not been shown to be harmful and has reduced complications in patients with bone marrow transplantation, after surgery, and in those with critical illness and burns.
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