In March of 2021, Mackie Shilstone offered a column on the positive effects, which the conditionally essential amino acid L-glutamine offered to reduce Covid-19 immune activated symptoms. In that column, he commented that initial Covid-19 research demonstrated that individuals with co-morbidities, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, were at greater risk to severe Covid-19 complications.
Glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in the blood, is released mainly from skeletal muscle, then transported to multiple tissue sites. It’s also used for the manufacture of glutathione (GSH), a powerful antioxidant.
A diverse group of researchers – Japan, China, and United States, report in Cell Death & Differentiation (CDD) in October 2021– “Comorbidity-Associated Glutamine Deficiency Is a Predisposition to Severe COVID-19” – that, “while it is presently unclear whether glutamine supplementation post-infection leads to an overall positive outcome, addressing glutamine deficiency prophylactically for those in high-risk groups is a safe and simple strategy for their protection in the era of COVID-19.
These same investigators cite 2012 research in the journal Circulation, which said that plasma glutamine and the glutamine-glutamate ratio are inversely associated with metabolic risks – leading to further research that concluded that low levels of glutamine were negatively correlated with COVID-19 disease severity.
In severe cases, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, can cause acute respiratory distress (ARD) and impair the body’s ability to coagulate (clot). Autopsies from COVID-19 patients demonstrated, that the average weight of the lung was 3.2 times that of a normal lung – yielding the name “heavy lungs,” resulting from the overproduction of hyaluronan (HA), an extracellular matrix of glycosaminoglycan polymers, which are used in the body as a lubricant or shock absorber.
Overproduction of HA in the lungs is not a desirable occurrence.
It also appears that a low glutamine status and a high glucose level could predispose high-risk COVID-19 groups to produce larger amounts of the HA.
The study authors state that, “glutamine deficiency in the high-risk groups may have previously established low levels of immune dysfunction and HA overproduction prior to infection.”
As for the antioxidant protection afforded by glutamine, “after SARS-CoV-2 infection, the cells are exposed to intense oxidative stress, which consumes intracellular glutamine for the production of the antioxidant, glutathione. This would further exacerbate the glutamine deficiency, potentially leading to grave metabolic dysfunction in the high-risk populations.”
The researchers say as to prevention and treatment of severe COVID-19, a top priority is to address glucose stability. “Studies have revealed that glutamine supplementation can lead to a decrease in the levels of fasting blood glucose and postprandial glucose, and an increase in insulin production,” as referenced in the CDD research paper.
There are certain situations, where glutamine supplementation may be contraindicated. “In 2013, a randomized clinical trial study, REDOXS, showed that high-dose glutamine use in critically ill patients was associated with increased mortality, with no beneficial effects,” which led the researchers to comment that, “clearly, the effects of long-term use of high-dose glutamine supplementation need to be carefully determined.”
The CDD study authors concluded that, “glutamine deficiency and HA overproduction appear to be the primary metabolic commonalities that not only are shared amongst the COVID-19 comorbidities, but also contribute to the immunological dysfunction that is exacerbated by SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
Interested in a Podcast? Check Out Maximum Wellness, Episode 113: Determining the Correct Diet Post Cancer Diagnosis