Glutamine may be a precursor for NO synthesis, which may play a crucial role in bacterial translocation (BT). The goal of the present study was to investigate the potential effects of glutamine on BT and the immunological response in an experimental model of NO synthase inhibition by NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (l-NAME). Mice were randomly assigned to four groups: sham; intestinal obstruction (IO); IO+500 mg/kg per d glutamine (GLN); IO+GLN plus 10 mg/kg per d l-NAME (GLN/LN). The groups were pretreated for 7 d. BT was induced by ileal ligation and was assessed 18 h later by measuring the radioactivity of 99mTc-Escherichia
coli in the blood and organs. Mucosal damage was determined using a histological analysis. Intestinal permeability (IP) was assessed by measuring the levels of 99mTc-diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid in the blood at 4, 8 and 18 h after surgery. IgA and cytokine concentrations were determined by ELISA in the intestinal fluid and plasma, respectively. BT was increased in the GLN/LN and IO groups than in the GLN and sham groups. IP and intestinal mucosa structure of the sham, GLN and GLN/LN groups were similar. The GLN group had the highest levels of interferon-γ, while IL-10 and secretory IgA levels were higher than those of the IO group but similar to those of the GLN/LN group. The present results suggest that effects of the glutamine pathway on BT were mediated by NO. The latter also interferes with the pro-inflammatory systemic immunological response. On the other hand, IP integrity preserved by the use of glutamine is independent of NO.