Endotoxemia affects intestinal physiology. A decrease of circulating citrulline concentration is considered as a reflection of the intestinal function. Citrulline can be produced in enterocytes notably from glutamate and glutamine. The aim of this work was to determine if glutamate, glutamine and citrulline concentrations in blood, intestine and muscle are decreased by endotoxemia, and if supplementation with glutamate or glutamine can restore normal concentrations. We induced endotoxemia in rats by an intraperitoneal injection of 0.3 mg kg(-1) lipopolysaccharide (LPS). This led to a rapid anorexia, negative nitrogen balance and a transient increase of the circulating level of IL-6 and TNF-α. When compared with the values measured in pair fed (PF) animals, almost all circulating amino acids (AA) including citrulline decreased, suggesting a decrease of intestinal function. However, at D2 after LPS injection, most circulating AA concentrations were closed to the values recorded in the PF group. At that time, among AA, only glutamate, glutamine and citrulline were decreased in gastrocnemius muscle without change in intestinal mucosa. A supplementation with 4% monosodium glutamate (MSG) or an isomolar amount of glutamine failed to restore glutamate, glutamine and citrulline concentrations in plasma and muscle. However, MSG supplementation led to an accumulation of glutamate in the intestinal mucosa. In conclusion, endotoxemia rapidly but transiently decreased the circulating concentrations of almost all AA and more durably of glutamate, glutamine and citrulline in muscle. Supplementation with glutamate or glutamine failed to restore glutamate, glutamine and citrulline concentrations in plasma and muscles. The implication of a loss of the intestinal capacity for AA absorption and/or metabolism in endotoxemia (as judged from decreased citrulline plasma concentration) for explaining such results are discussed.
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