Amino acid can offset gastric damage

May 16th, 2009 - 1:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 16 (IANS) H. pylori, the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and gastric cancer affecting half the global population, is becoming highly resistant to antibiotics.
A new study by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) and the MIT shows that glutamine, amino acid found in many foods and dietary supplements, may prove beneficial in offsetting damage caused by H. pylori infection.

Glutamine is found in chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products and some fruits and vegetables. L-glutamine, biologically active variant of glutamine - is widely used as a dietary supplement by body builders.

“Our findings suggest that extra glutamine in the diet could protect against gastric damage caused by H. pylori,” said study co-author Susan Hagen, associate director of research at the department of surgery BIDMC.

“Gastric damage develops when the bacteria weakens the stomach’s protective mucous coating, damages cells and elicits a robust immune response that is ineffective at ridding the infection,” she said.

Eventually, she notes, years of infection result in a combination of persistent gastritis, cell damage and an environment conducive to cancer development.

Hagen and her co-authors had previously shown that glutamine protects against cell death from H. pylori-produced ammonia, said a BIDMC release.

“Our work demonstrated that the damaging effects of ammonia on gastric cells could be reversed completely by the administration of L-glutamine,” explains Hagen.

“The amino acid stimulated ammonia detoxification in the stomach - as it does in the liver - so that the effective concentration of ammonia was reduced, thereby blocking cell damage,” she said.

“H. pylori bacteria infect more than half of the world’s population and were recently identified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organisation,” Hagen adds.

“The possibility that an inexpensive, easy-to-use treatment could be used to modify the damaging effects of H. pylori infection warrants further study in clinical trials,” she said.

These findings were published in the May issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

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