Intra-amniotic administration of l-glutamine promotes intestinal maturation and enteroendocrine stimulation in chick embryos

Naama Reicher, Tal Melkman-Zehavi, Jonathan Dayan, Zehava Uni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Initial nutritional stimulation is a key driving force for small intestinal maturation. In chick embryos, administration of l-glutamine (Gln) into the amniotic fluid stimulates early development of the small intestinal epithelium by promoting enterocyte differentiation. In this study, we evaluated the effects of intra-amniotic administration of Gln on enterocyte morphology and function, and elucidated a potential enteroendocrine pathway through which Gln stimulates small intestinal maturation. Our results show that Gln stimulation at embryonic day 17 significantly increased enterocyte and microvilli dimensions by 10 and 20%, respectively, within 48 h. Post-hatch, enterocytes and microvilli were 20% longer in Gln-treated chicks. Correspondingly, Gln stimulation significantly upregulated mRNA expression of brush border nutrient transporters PepT-1 and SGLT-1 and tight junction proteins TJP-1 and TJP-2, before and after hatch (P < 0.05). Since GLP-2 signaling from intestinal L-cells is associated with enterocyte growth, functionality and integrity, we examined the effects of Gln stimulation on mRNA expression of key hormones and receptors within this enteroendocrine pathway and found significant increases in GLP-2R, IGF-1 and IGF-1R expression before and after hatch (P < 0.05). In conclusion, our findings link primary nutrient stimulation in the developing small intestine with enterocyte morphological and functional maturation and enteroendocrine signaling.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2645
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

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