Objective: We examined the effect of standard formula and glutamine or glycine supplemented enteral formula on intestinal permeability and weight gain in children with malnutrition.
Methods: 80 children aged 2 to 60 months with a weight-for-age z-score less than −2 were studied. From December 1996 to April 1999, 27 study patients received nonsupplemented formula. From June 2001 to June 2002 an additional 53 patients were randomly assigned to receive formula supplemented with glutamine or glycine (isosmolar concentrations) for 10 days. Lactulose/mannitol excretion ratio was used as a measure of intestinal permeability and was performed before and after 10 days of nutritional rehabilitation. Weight was measured before and after treatment.
Results: Patients were similar on admission with regard to age, sex, nutritional status and lactulose/mannitol ratio. The lactulose/mannitol ratio significantly improved (decreased) in children receiving formula supplemented with glutamine for 10 days but not in those receiving glycine or nonsupplemented formula. Weight gain occurred during therapy in all groups and was not statistically different among groups.
Conclusion: Formula supplemented with glutamine improves intestinal barrier function compared with nonsupplemented formula but does not augment weight gain.