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Glutamine: Synthesized in the Brain... If You Breathe Correctly

Amino acids: arginine, glutamine, cystein, etc.Glutamine is the most abundant and most required amino acid in the human organism (hence, its popularity for bodybuilding). It is also the amino acid most required for tissue repair. However, “since the supply of glutamic acid from the circulating blood is insufficient for the formation of additional amount of glutamine, the dicarboxylic acid has to be synthesized in the brain.” (Berl et al, 1962) This last substance is a CO2 derivative and its production depends on CO2 levels in the brain and our breathing patterns.

Many normal people - and all people with chronic diseases - have low body-oxygen levels due to deep automatic breathing (chronic hyperventilation) 24/7. Why is it so?

Effects of heavy deep breathing on brain oxygen levelsOverbreathing, as shown in dozens of studies, leads to reduced oxygen transport to brain cells and cells of other vital organs in the human body. This leads to anaerobic acidic environment and generation of free radicals causing oxidative damage to the brain and other tissues and organs. As a result, people experience increased glutamine demands for cell repair and insufficient glutamine synthesis due to low levels of CO2 in body cells. Why could CO2 levels matter?

Scientists in the laboratoryA review of numerous research studies devoted to this subject was given by Waelsch and colleagues (1964) in an article entitled “Quantitative aspects of CO2 fixation in mammalian brain in vivo”. They found that aspartic and glutamic amino acids and glutamine were the substances chemically synthesized in mammalian brains. But CO2 is used to synthesize glutamine (Rossi et al, 1962; Waelsch et al, 1964; Pincus, 1968; Pincus et al, 1969; Cheng, 1971; Konitzer et al, 1977; Cheng et al, 1978; Tachiki & Baxter, 1980; Lockwood & Finn, 1982; Martin et al, 1992; Oz et al, 2004). You can read abstracts of some of these studies at the bottom of this page.

All these studies suggest that the gas we exhale plays the crucial role in glutamine synthesis, while many other studies have found that cell hypocapnia (low CO2) causes generation of free radicals, oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, poor repair of injuries and many other negative effects (see CO2 links below).

CO2 model 
flying above oceanThus, CO2 can be fixed by the human organism to rebuild nervous tissues in the brain. The rate of CO2-derived glutamine production is proportional to CO2 concentration in the brain. It follows that low CO2 in the brain not only makes the brain unreasonably excited (often causing anxiety, insomnia, fears, panic attacks, aggression, hostility, violence, or other strong emotions), but also has adverse effects on its cellular repair.

As a result, slow and light diaphragmatic nasal breathing leads to higher oxygen levels in the brain and body cells favoring effective glutamine synthesis and normalizing numerous other chemical reactions.

If you want to read physiological evidence (abstracts of studies) for CO2 role in glutamine synthesis and fixation in the brain, click here. The links and titles (details) of these studies are provided below.

References: Glutamine synthesis and CO2 fixation

Waelsch H, Berl S, Rossi CA, Clarke DD, Purpura DP,
Quantitative aspects of CO2 fixation in mammalian brain in vivo,
J. Neurochem. Oct 1964, 11: 717-728.

Oz G, Berkich DA, Henry PG, Xu Y, LaNoue K, Hutson SM, Gruetter R. .
Neuroglial metabolism in the awake rat brain: CO2 fixation increases with brain activity.
J Neurosci. 2004 Dec 15;24(50):11273-9.

Pincus JH
Carbon dioxide fixation in rat brain: Relationship to cerebral excitability
Experimental Neurology, Volume 24, Issue 3, July 1969, Pages 339-347.

Lockwood AH, Finn RD.
11C-carbon dioxide fixation and equilibration in rat brain: effects on acid-base measurements.
Neurology. 1982 Apr;32(4):451-4.

Tachiki KH, Baxter CF.
Role of carbon dioxide fixation, blood aspartate and glutamate in the adaptation of amphibian brain tissues to a hyperosmotic internal environment.
Neurochem Res. 1980 Sep;5(9) blood but apparently not from CO2 fixation in brain.

Konitzer K, Voigt S, Hetey L.
Carbon dioxide fixation in the brain: its relation to glucose synthesis.
Acta Biol Med Ger. 1977; 36(2):147-56.

Martin G, Michoudet C, Vincent N, Baverel G.
Release and fixation of CO2 by guinea-pig kidney tubules metabolizing aspartate.
Biochem J. 1992 Jun 15; 284 (Pt 3): 697-703.

Cheng SC.
CO2 fixation in the nervous tissue.
Int Rev Neurobiol. 1971;14:125-57.

Pincus JH.
The effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide on carbon dioxide fixation in rat brain.
Neurology. 1968 Mar;18(3):293.

Rossi, CA, Berl, S., Clark, DD, Purpura, DP, and Waelsch, H.
Rate of CO2 fixation in brain and liver.
Life Sci. 1962 Oct;1:533-9.

Cheng SC, Naruse H, Brunner EA.
Effects of sodium thiopental on the tricarboxylic acid cycle metabolism in mouse brain: CO2 fixation and metabolic compartmentation
J Neurochem. 1978 Jun;30(6):1591-3.


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