We studied the effect of sepsis and the regulation by glutamine of protein synthesis in enterocytes isolated from the small intestine of rats. Sepsis was induced by caecal ligation and puncture; control rats were sham operated. Enterocytes were isolated from the jejunum and incubated in a medium containing [3H]phenylalanine. Sixteen hours after caecal ligation and puncture, protein synthesis, measured as incorporation of radioactivity into protein, was increased by 65%, 89% and 137% respectively in enterocytes from the tips and mid-portions of the villi and from the crypts. Addition of glutamine to incubated enterocytes stimulated protein synthesis in a dose-dependent manner, and this effect was most pronounced in crypt cells from septic rats. The effect of glutamine on protein synthesis was duplicated by equimolar concentrations of acetoacetate or 3-hydroxybutyrate, both of which may serve as fuel for enterocytes, and was blocked by the glutaminase inhibitor 6-diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine. The results suggest that sepsis stimulates protein synthesis in enterocytes and that glutamine regulates protein synthesis in the same cells, probably by energy provision.
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