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A double blind, randomised, controlled trial of glutamine supplementation in parenteral nutrition


BACKGROUND AND AIMS To determine whether the inclusion of 20 g free glutamine as part of the nitrogen source of parenteral feeds reduces length of hospital stay or mortality.

METHODS In a randomised, double blind, controlled trial in 168 patients clinically accepted for parenteral nutrition, standard feeds were compared with feeds in which 3.8 g of the total nitrogen was replaced with the equivalent 20 g glutamine. A minimum of 11 g nitrogen/day was used in all patients. Daily intakes of energy and nitrogen were determined using a validated computer protocol and were similar for the two groups. All feeds included trace elements, vitamins, electrolytes, and minerals.

RESULTS A total of 85 patients received a median of eight (interquartile range 5–13) daily feeds containing glutamine while 83 received a median of eight (5–15) standard feeds. No difference between groups was detected for infective complications. Twenty control patients and 14 who had received glutamine died during their hospital stay (NS). Median length of stay was 32 (23–52) days on glutamine, which was not significantly different from the control value of 35 (25–55) days. Glutamine was associated with a significant (p<0.03) reduction in length of stay in surgical patients (45 days (range 29–81) versus 30 days (range 19–54)).

CONCLUSION The benefit from glutamine supplementation of parenteral feeds as used in this trial has not been proved. Supplementation may have advantages in surgical patients and in haematological malignancy. Further trials are required.

  • glutamine supplementation
  • parenteral nutrition
  • Abbreviations used in this paper

    reference nutrient intake
  • Statistics from

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