Amino Acids

, Volume 46, Issue 10, pp 2403–2413 | Cite as

Dietary l-glutamine supplementation modulates microbial community and activates innate immunity in the mouse intestine

  • Wenkai Ren
  • Jielin Duan
  • Jie Yin
  • Gang Liu
  • Zhong Cao
  • Xia XiongEmail author
  • Shuai Chen
  • Tiejun Li
  • Yulong Yin
  • Yongqing Hou
  • Guoyao Wu
Original Article


This study was conducted to determine effects of dietary supplementation with 1 % l-glutamine for 14 days on the abundance of intestinal bacteria and the activation of intestinal innate immunity in mice. The measured variables included (1) the abundance of Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Lactobacillus, Streptococcus and Bifidobacterium in the lumen of the small intestine; (2) the expression of toll-like receptors (TLRs), pro-inflammatory cytokines, and antibacterial substances secreted by Paneth cells and goblet cells in the jejunum, ileum and colon; and (3) the activation of TLR4-nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK), and phosphoinositide-3-kinases (PI3K)/PI3K-protein kinase B (Akt) signaling pathways in the jejunum and ileum. In the jejunum, glutamine supplementation decreased the abundance of Firmicutes, while increased mRNA levels for antibacterial substances in association with the activation of NF-κB and PI3K-Akt pathways. In the ileum, glutamine supplementation induced a shift in the Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes ratio in favor of Bacteroidetes, and enhanced mRNA levels for Tlr4, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and antibacterial substances participating in NF-κB and JNK signaling pathways. These results indicate that the effects of glutamine on the intestine vary with its segments and compartments. Collectively, dietary glutamine supplementation of mice beneficially alters intestinal bacterial community and activates the innate immunity in the small intestine through NF-κB, MAPK and PI3K-Akt signaling pathways.


Glutamine Paneth cell Firmicutes NF-κB Innate immunity 



Protein kinase B


RNase angiogenin 4


Cryptdin-related sequence






Lysozyme 2


Mitogen-activated protein kinases




Myeloid differentiation factor-88


Nuclear factor kappa B




Regenerating islet-derived 3 gamma


Secretory group II A phospholipase A2


Tumor necrosis factor


Toll-like receptors



This study was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (2013CB127301, 2012CB124704, 2012CB126305), NSFC (31330075, 31101729, 31301989, 31101730, 31201813, 31301988), Hunan Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (13JJ2034), Hunan Provincial Key Laboratory of Materials Protection for Electric Power and Transportation (No. 2013CL06), Changsha University of Science & Technology, P. R. China, Hubei Provincial Research and Development Program (Grant No. 2010BB023), Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province (No. 2012FFB04805), Hubei One Hundred Talent Program, and Texas A&M AgriLife Research (H-82000).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenkai Ren
    • 1
  • Jielin Duan
    • 1
  • Jie Yin
    • 1
  • Gang Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhong Cao
    • 2
  • Xia Xiong
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shuai Chen
    • 1
  • Tiejun Li
    • 1
  • Yulong Yin
    • 1
    • 3
  • Yongqing Hou
    • 3
  • Guoyao Wu
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Agro-ecological Processes in Subtropical Region, Scientific Observing and Experimental Station of Animal Nutrition and Feed Science in South-Central China, Ministry of Agriculture, Hunan Provincial Engineering Research Center of Healthy Livestock, Institute of Subtropical AgricultureThe Chinese Academy of SciencesChangshaChina
  2. 2.Hunan Provincial Key Laboratory of Materials Protection for Electric Power and Transportation, School of Chemistry and Biological EngineeringChangsha University of Science and TechnologyChangshaChina
  3. 3.Hubei Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition and Feed Science, Hubei Collaborative Innovation Center for Animal Nutrition and Feed SafetyWuhan Polytechnic UniversityWuhanChina
  4. 4.Department of Animal ScienceTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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