Plasma glutamine concentrations in the horse following feeding and oral glutamine supplementation

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Reasons for performing study:

Pharmacological benefits of glutamine supplementation have been shown in athletically and clinically stressed human subjects. In the horse, infection and intense exercise have also been shown to significantly decrease plasma glutamine concentrations, but little is known on how best to supplement.


To evaluate whether ingestion of different foodstuffs, with or without L-glutamine (G) or a peptide (Pep) containing 31.5% w/w G in a water-stable form, could affect plasma glutamine concentrations (P-GC).

Materials and methods:

Nine feeds (molassed sugar beet-pulp (mSB); naked oats (nO); commercial mix (CM); mSB with 30 or 60 mg/kg bwt G or the G-molar equivalent of Pep; and CM with 60 mg/kg bwt G or equivalent Pep) were offered to 6 healthy mature horses on different days following overnight food restriction. The changes in P-GC were monitored for 8 h post feeding.


After 1.5 h mean ± s.d. ΔP-GC were -0.9 ± 10.2% (mSB), +12.5 ± 7.1% (nO) and +44.7 ± 15.9% (CM; P<0.05). ΔP-GC with mSB supplemented with G was +60.9 ± 30.0% (30 mg; P<0.05) and +156.8 ± 34.6% (60 mg; P<0.05) at 1 h; AP-GC with Pep was 51.0 ± 31.0% (30 mg equivalent, P<0.05) and +91.1 ± 9.5% (60 mg equivalent, P<0.05) at 1 h. After 10 days of supplementation with 60 mg/kg bwt G, ΔP-GC following a further 60 mg/kg bwt G challenge showed a similar increase at 1 h of + 154.3 ± 37.9%; prevalues were unchanged. G and Pep added to CM, increased P-GC by 246.3 ± 55.3 (+99.2%) and 252.3 ± 94.2 μmol/l (96.7%) at 1.5 h with concentrations still above prevalues at 8 h (P<0.05). Apart from the CM (with or without supplement), pre P-GC was always regained by 4 h. Plasma NH3 and plasma protein concentrations were unaffected by supplementation with G or Pep.


P-GC may be modified by appropriate supplementation with no apparent adverse effects.

Potential relevance:

Increasing P-GC through appropriate supplementation may be of benefit in the athletically or clinically stressed horse with lowered plasma glutamine concentrations.

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