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Glutamine found to protect the gut against H.pylori

The bacterium Helibacter pylori is a primary cause of peptic ulcer and may increase susceptibility to stomach cancer. The infection is conventionally treated with a combination of two antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor. The gastric damage seen in Helicobacter occurs when the bacteria weakens the protective mucosal lining in the gut, stimulating an immune response that results in a chronically inflamed stomach lining (gastritis).


L-glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid. As L-glutamic acid it is a significant fuel source, particularly for intestinal epithelial cells. The efficacy of glutamine in promoting the healing of the gastric mucosal lining has long been recognised by CAM practitioners; in a study of gastric epithelial cells glutamine was found to prevent ammonia induced damage. In a new study researchers fed 105 mice either a standardized diet (containing 1.9% glutamine) or the same diet with supplemental L-glutamine (containing 6.9% glutamine). After two weeks the mice were divided into four groups according to whether they were being fed the standard or glutamine enriched diet and whether they were infected with H. pylori or not. 


At six-weeks-post infection, the animals exhibited increased expression of three cytokines – interleukin 4, interleukin 10 and transforming growth factor-alpha mRNA, which all play an important role in the stomach's ability to protect itself against the damaging effects of other responses to H. pylori infection. By week 20, among the H. pylori-infected animals, the mice that were fed the L-glutamine diet exhibited lower levels of inflammation than did the mice that received the standard control diet. "Because many of the stomach pathologies during H. pylori infection 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," explains the lead author of the study Susan Hagen.

Although studies with human subjects will have to be conducted in order to determine the relevance of these results in a clinical setting they nonetheless provide exciting preliminary evidence. Click here to read the study in full.

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