Glutamine Enhances Tight Junction Protein Expression and Modulates Corticotropin-Releasing Factor Signaling in the Jejunum of Weanling Piglets1,2

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Abstract

Background:

Dysfunction of tight junction integrity is associated with decreased nutrient absorption and numerous gastrointestinal diseases in humans and piglets. Although l-glutamine has been reported to enhance intestinal-mucosal mass and barrier function under stressful conditions, in vivo data to support a functional role for l-glutamine on intestinal tight junction protein (TJP) expression in weanling mammals are limited.

Objective:

This study tested the hypothesis that glutamine regulates expression of TJPs and stress-related corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) signaling in the jejunum of weanling piglets.

Methods:

Piglets were reared by sows or weaned at 21 d of age to a corn and soybean meal-based diet that was or was not supplemented with 1% l-glutamine for 7 d. Growth performance, intestinal permeability, TJP abundance, and CRF expression were examined.

Results:

Weaning caused increases (P < 0.05) in intestinal permeability by 40% and in CRF concentrations by 4.7 times in association with villus atrophy (P < 0.05). Western blot analysis showed reductions (P < 0.05) in jejunal expression of occludin, claudin-1, zonula occludens (ZO) 2, and ZO-3, but no changes in the abundance of claudin-3, claudin-4, or ZO-1 in weanling piglets compared with age-matched suckling controls. Glutamine supplementation improved (P < 0.05) intestinal permeability and villus height, while reducing (P < 0.05) jejunal mRNA and protein levels for CRF and attenuating (P < 0.05) weanling-induced decreases in occludin, claudin-1, ZO-2, and ZO-3 protein abundances.

Conclusion:

Collectively, our results support an important role for L-glutamine in regulating expression of TJPs and CRF in the jejunum of weanling piglets.

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