L-Glutamine Reduces Number of Pain Crises in Sickle Cell Disease

Significantly fewer pain crises, hospitalizations compared with those receiving placebo.
Significantly fewer pain crises, hospitalizations compared with those receiving placebo.

HealthDay News — For patients with sickle cell-related pain, those receiving oral therapy with L-glutamine have a lower median number of pain crises, according to a study published in the July 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Yutaka Niihara, MD, MPH, from the University of California at Los Angeles, and colleagues examined the efficacy of pharmaceutical-grade L-glutamine administered twice daily by mouth vs placebo in reducing the incidence of pain crises among patients with sickle cell anemia or sickle β0-thalassemia with a history of 2 or more pain crises in the previous year. Two hundred thirty patients (age 5 to 58 years) were randomized in a 2:1 ratio to receive L-glutamine or placebo during a 48-week treatment period. 

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The researchers found that there were significantly fewer pain crises in the L-glutamine group than in the placebo group, with a median of 3.0 and 4.0, respectively. There were significantly fewer hospitalizations in the L-glutamine group than the placebo group, with a median of 2.0 and 3.0, respectively. In both trial groups, two-thirds of patients received concomitant hydroxyurea. The L-glutamine group more often had low-grade nausea, non-cardiac chest pain, fatigue, and musculoskeletal pain.

"Our trial showed that the median number of pain crises over 48 weeks was lower among the patients who received L-glutamine than among those who received placebo," the authors write.

The study was funded by Emmaus Medical.

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