Effects of corticosteroid on the transport and metabolism of glutamine in rat skeletal muscle

Harinder S. Hundal, Philip Babij, Peter M. Taylor, Peter W. Watt, Michael J. Rennie

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    Intramuscular glutamine falls with injury and disease in circumstances associated with increases in blood corticosteroids. We have investigated the effects of corticosteroid administration (0.44 mg/kg dexamethasone daily for 8 days, 200 g female rats) on intramuscular glutamine and Na+, muscle glutamine metabolism and sarcolemmal glutamine transport in the perfused hindlimb. After dexamethasone treatment intramuscular glutamine fell by 45% and Na+ rose by 25% (the respective muscle/plasma distribution ratios changed from 8.6 to 4.5 and 0.12 to 0.15); glutamine synthetase and glutaminase activities were unchanged at 475 ± 75 and 60 ± 19 nmol/g muscle per min. Glutamine output by the hindlimb of anaesthetized rats was increased from 31 to 85 nmol/g per min. Sarcolemmal glutamine transport was studied by paired-tracer dilution in the perfused hindlimb: the maximal capacity (Vmax) for glutamine transport into muscle (by Na+-glutamine symport) fell from 1058 ± 310 to 395 ± 110 nmol/g muscle per min after dexamethasone treatment, accompanied by a decrease in the Km (from 8.1 ± 1.9 to 2.1 ± 0.4 mM glutamine). At physiological plasma glutamine concentration (0.75 mM) dexamethasone appeared to cause a proportional increase in sarcolemmal glutamine efflux over influx. Addition of dexamethasone (200 nM) to the perfusate of control rat hindlimbs caused acute changes in Vmax and Km of glutamine transport similar to those resulting from 8-day dexamethasone treatment. The reduction in muscle glutamine concentration after dexamethasone treatment may be primarily due to a reduction in the driving force for intramuscular glutamine accumulation, i.e., in the Na+ electrochemical gradient. The prolonged increase in muscle glutamine output after dexamethasone treatment (which occurs despite a reduction in the size of the intramuscular glutamine pool) appears to be due to a combination of (a) accelerated sarcolemmal glutamine efflux and (b) increased intramuscular synthesis of glutamine.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)376-383
    Number of pages8
    JournalBBA - Molecular Cell Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 17 May 1991


    • Amino acid
    • Cell membrane
    • Dexamethasone
    • Trauma


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