The feeding of a protein hydrolysate based 'elemental' diet supplemented with added glutamine did not provide superior protection to the small intestine of dogs subjected to therapeutic pelvic irradiation. Comparison of diets with and without the added glutamine showed significant protection of the intestine from radiation injury. Both histological examination and electron microscopy showed lack of tissue injury with both diets. The activity of the free radical generating enzymes, scavengers, and antioxidants were similar in the intestinal mucosa of dogs fed either diet. After radiation, however, the activity of xanthine oxidase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase were significantly (p < 0.002) higher in the intestine of dogs fed elemental diet without the added glutamine. If the activities of these enzymes are important in the protection of the intestine from radiation injury, then the addition of extra glutamine may provide no benefit.
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