Glutamine can help overweight people lose weight

Glutamine can help overweight people lose weight

A study done at Karolinska Institutet and the University of Oxford showed that the amino acid glutamine could reduce adipose tissue but also reduce inflammation of the adipose tissue. Overweight people, on average had lower levels of glutamine in the fatty tissue than healthy weight people. More research is needed before glutamine can be recommended as a dietary supplement in obesity.

A study shows that 27 percent of American children will be overweight when they reach age 35 and there is a high risk that they will remain. Being overweight is a problem here in the EU too, but there are steps that a parent can take to counteract that children have weight problems.

Glutamine is an amino acid that has many important functions in the body, such as providing energy and maintaining gut flora. It is also the most common amino acid. A new study done at the Karolinska Institutet and the University of Oxford showed that glutamine could help overweight people lose weight while reducing inflammation of the fatty tissue.

Mikael Rydén, professor, consultant, and adipose tissue researcher at the Department of Medicine in Huddinge at Karolinska Institutet, is the main author of the study. He says their results indicate that glutamine may be of value against obesity but also in insulin resistance.

“We know that glutamine is important for cell division, including cancer cells, and potential long-term side effects need to be investigated before it can be recommended as a general dietary supplement to counter obesity and its complications,” says Mikael Rydén.

Reduced inflammation

Glutamine also has anti-inflammatory effects on, for example, T cells and white blood cells that are important for the immune system. The researcher was also able to show how the levels of glutamine affect how our genes are expressed in different cell types.

Low glutamine levels could trigger the presence of inflammation-causing gene copies, so-called mRNAs, in the adipose tissue.

When the researchers injected mice with glutamine for two weeks, they had fewer inflammatory markers in the cells than mice that did not receive glutamine. The mice received a reduced fat mass and lower glucose levels in the blood of glutamine. When researchers looked at human fat cells, the inflammation-driven gene copies and fat accumulation also decreased after injection of glutamine.

Important in cell division

The researchers also investigated how the breakdown of different substances in the adipose tissue in the stomach differed between 29 healthy weight and 52 fat women. They could conclude that glutamine was the amino acid whose levels varied most in fatty tissue. The overweight women had lower levels of glutamine than the normal ones. The researchers also found that low glutamine levels could be linked to higher fat percentage and higher fat volume regardless of the BMI subjects.

When the levels of glutamine changed in the fat cells, the researchers discovered that a mechanism that controls epigenetic changes, that is, when the environment and lifestyle factors interfere with the genes, could be seen that those with higher levels of this mechanism (O-GlcNAcylation) were fatter than those receiving glutamine. 

– Our study shows that glutamine is anti-inflammatory in the adipose tissue by altering gene expression in several different cell types. This means that a lack of glutamine, which can occur in long-term obesity, can lead to gene changes that drive inflammation in the body, says Mikael Rydén.

The study is published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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