Perioperative glutamine supplementation restores disturbed renal arginine synthesis after open aortic surgery: a randomized controlled clinical trial

Saskia J. H. Brinkmann, Nikki Buijs, Mechteld A. R. Vermeulen, Efraim Oosterink, Henk Schierbeek, Albertus Beishuizen, Jean-Paul P. M. de Vries, Willem Wisselink, Paul A. M. van Leeuwen

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Postoperative renal failure is a common complication after open repair of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. The amino acid arginine is formed in the kidneys from its precursor citrulline, and citrulline is formed from glutamine in the intestines. Arginine enhances the function of the immune and cardiovascular systems, which is important for recovery after surgery. We hypothesized that renal arginine production is diminished after ischemia-reperfusion injury caused by clamping of the aorta during open abdominal aortic surgery and that parenteral glutamine supplementation might compensate for this impaired arginine synthesis. This open-label clinical trial randomized patients who underwent clamping of the aorta during open abdominal aortic surgery to receive a perioperative supplement of intravenous alanyl-glutamine (0.5 g·kg(-1)·day(-1); group A, n = 5) or no supplement (group B, n = 5). One day after surgery, stable isotopes and tracer methods were used to analyze the metabolism and conversion of glutamine, citrulline, and arginine. Whole body plasma flux of glutamine, citrulline, and arginine was significantly higher in group A than in group B (glutamine: 391 ± 34 vs. 258 ± 19 μmol·kg(-1)·h(-1), citrulline: 5.7 ± 0.4 vs. 2.8 ± 0.4 μmol·kg(-1)·h(-1), and arginine: 50 ± 4 vs. 26 ± 2 μmol·kg(-1)·h(-1), P < 0.01), as was the synthesis of citrulline from glutamine (4.8 ± 0.7 vs. 1.6 ± 0.3 μmol·kg(-1)·h(-1)), citrulline from arginine (2.3 ± 0.3 vs. 0.96 ± 0.1 μmol·kg(-1)·h(-1)), and arginine from glutamine (7.7 ± 0.4 vs. 2.8 ± 0.2 μmol·kg(-1)·h(-1)), respectively (P < 0.001 for all). In conclusion, the production of citrulline and arginine is severely reduced after clamping during aortic surgery. This study shows that an intravenous supplement of glutamine increases the production of citrulline and arginine and compensates for the inhibitory effect of ischemia-reperfusion injury
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F567-F575
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology. Renal Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


  • acute kidney injury
  • arginine
  • citrulline
  • glutamine
  • ischemia-reperfusion injury

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