Free glutamine and glutamic acid increase in human milk through a three-month lactation period

Carlo Agostoni, Brunella Carratù, Concetta Boniglia, Anna Maria Lammardo, Enrica Riva, Elisabetta Sanzini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Previous short observational studies on the free amino acid (FAA) content of human milk have shown that glutamine and glutamic acid increase in the first 4 to 6 weeks of life. Methods: Changes in human milk content of free amino acids (FAAs) was determined at colostrum, 1 month, and 3 months of lactation in 16 healthy lactating women after delivery of full-term infants. Milk was collected at the end of each feeding (hindmilk) during 24 hours. Results: Glutamic acid and taurine were the most abundant FAAs at colostrum. Although taurine remained stable throughout lactation, glutamic acid (the prevalent FAA) and glutamine increased approximately 2.5 and 20 times, respectively, with progressing lactation representing more than 50% of total FAA at 3 months. The content of essential FAA was also stable, so the change in total FAA content was almost entirely due to the changes in glutamic acid and glutamine. Conclusions: Breast-fed infants are supplied with progressively increasing amounts of glutamine and glutamic acid throughout lactation. The increasing intake of glutamic acid and glutamine could benefit breast-fed infants with molecules that are likely to protect the enteral mucosa and act as neurotransmitters and as a source of nitrogen. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-512
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Free amino acids
  • Glutamic acid
  • Glutamine
  • Human milk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Histology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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