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Glutamine protects against increases in blood ammonia in football players in an exercise intensity-dependent way
  1. A Bassini-Cameron1,2,
  2. A Monteiro1,3,4,
  3. A Gomes1,5,
  4. J P S Werneck-de-Castro1,6,7,
  5. L Cameron1,2,3
  1. 1
    Laboratório de Bioquímica de Proteínas, Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  2. 2
    Instituto de Genética e Bioquímica, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Uberlândia, Brazil
  3. 3
    Programa de Pós Graduação em Ciência da Motricidade Humana-Universidade Castelo Branco, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  4. 4
    Universidade Iguc̨u, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  5. 5
    Universidade Estácio de Sá, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  6. 6
    Departamento de Biociências da Atividade Física, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  7. 7
    Insitituto de Biofisica Carlos Chagas Filho, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  1. L C Cameron, Av Pasteur, 296- térreo. Urca - Rio de Janeiro, RJ, CEP 22290-240, Brazil; cameron{at}


Objective: High-intensity and prolonged exercise significantly enhances the levels of plasma ammonia, a metabolite with toxic effects on the central nervous system. The main purpose of the present study was to evaluate the metabolic response of athletes to glutamine (Gln) and alanine (Ala) supplementation, since these amino acids have a significant influence on both anaplerosis and gluconeogenesis.

Methods: Professional football players were assigned to groups receiving either Gln or Ala supplementation (100 mg kg−1 body weight); this supplementation was either short-term or long-term and was given immediately before exercise. The players were evaluated using two exercise protocols, one with intervals (n = 18) and the other with continuous intensity (n = 12).

Results: Both types of exercises increased ammonia, urate, urea and creatinine in blood. Chronic Gln supplementation partially protected against hyperammonemia after a football match (intermittent exercise: Gln −140 (SEM 13)% vs Ala −240 (SEM 37)%) and after continuous exercise at 80% of the maximum heart rate (Gln −481 (SEM 44)% vs placebo −778 (SEM 99)%). Urate increased by 10−20% in all groups, independently of supplementation. Glutamine once a day supplementation induced a greater elevation in urate as compared to alanine at the end of the game; however, long-term supplementation provoked a lesser increment in urate. Exercise induced similar increases in creatinine as compared to their respective controls in either acute or chronic glutamine administration.

Conclusions: Taken together, the results suggest that chronically supplemented Gln protects against exercise-induced hyperammonemia depending on exercise intensity and supplementation duration.

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  • Competing interests: None.