The effect of glutamine on A549 cells exposed to moderate hyperoxia

Folasade Ogunlesi, Cecilia Cho, Sharon A. McGrath-Morrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of high oxygen concentrations is frequently necessary in the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). High oxygen concentrations, however, are detrimental to cell growth and cell survival. Glutamine (Gln) may be protective to cells during periods of stress and recently has been shown to increase survival in A549 cells exposed to lethal concentrations of oxygen (95% O2). We found that supplemental Gln enhances cell growth in A549 cells exposed to moderate concentrations of oxygen (60% O2). We therefore evaluated the effect of moderate hyperoxia on the cell cycle distribution of A549 cells. At 48 h there was no significant difference in the cell cycle distribution between 2 mM Gln cells in 60% O2 and 2 mM cells in room air. Furthermore, 2 mM Gln cells in 60% O2 had stable protein levels of cyclin B 1 consistent with ongoing cell proliferation. In contrast, at 48 h, cells not supplemented with glutamine (Gln-) in 60% O2 had evidence of growth arrest by both flow cytometry (increased percentage of G1 cells) and by decreased protein levels of cyclin B1. G1 growth arrest in the Gln- cells exposed to 60% O 2 was not, however, associated with induction of p21 protein. At 72 and 96 h, Gln- cells in 60% O2, began to demonstrate a partial loss of G1 checkpoint regulation and an increase in apoptosis, indicating an increased sensitivity to oxygen toxicity. Glutathione (GSH) concentrations were then measured. 2 mM Gln cells in 60% O2 were found to have higher concentrations of GSH compared to Gln- cells in 60% O2, suggesting that Gln confers protection to the cell during exposure to hyperoxia through up-regulation of GSH. When cells in 60% O2 were given higher concentrations of Gln (5 and 10 mM), cell growth at 96 h was increased compared to cells grown in 2 mM Gln (P<0.04). Clonal survival was also increased in cells exposed 60% O2 and supplemented with higher concentrations of Gln compared to Gln- cells in 60% O2. These studies suggest that supplemental glutamine may improve cell growth and cell viability and therefore may be beneficial to the lung during exposure to moderate concentrations of supplemental oxygen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-120
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2 2004


  • A549 cell
  • Glutamine
  • Hyperoxia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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