Characteristics and regulation of hepatic glutamine transport.

B. Bode, B. K. Tamarappoo, M. Mailliard, M. S. Kilberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Glutamine is an important amino acid because of its key role in the transfer of both carbon and nitrogen between tissues in the body. Specific tissues are usually associated with either net synthesis or net utilization of glutamine, but the liver plays a central role in glutamine homeostasis, in that it can shift to function in either capacity. This capability, along with the localization of urea biosynthesis in the periportal hepatocytes, focuses attention on the transport mechanisms in hepatocytes for uptake and release of glutamine. Active transport of glutamine by hepatocytes is mediated by a Na(+)-dependent activity termed system N, which exhibits a rather narrow substrate specificity mediating uptake of histidine and asparagine as well as of glutamine. This secondary active transport system allows for the net accumulation of glutamine against a concentration gradient and maintenance of intracellular concentrations of glutamine between 4 and 8 mM in the face of a plasma concentration of 0.6 mM. Utilization of the Na+ electrochemical gradient as a driving force ensures that the system N carrier catalyzes a unidirectional transport event favoring the cytoplasm. It is obvious from the glutamine gradient across the plasma membrane that efflux of this amino acid is typically slower than accumulation; measurement of saturable, Na(+)-independent glutamine transport by system L substantiates this proposal. However, it is clear that under certain metabolic conditions the liver represents a source of glutamine for other tissues in the body and net efflux must occur. The system N transport activity in hepatocytes is regulated by hormones such as insulin, glucagon, and glucocorticoids, as demonstrated both in vivo and in vitro.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51S-55S
JournalJPEN. Journal of parenteral and enteral nutrition
Issue number4 Suppl
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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