2011 年 131 巻 12 号 p. 1699-1709
Recent evidence indicates that free amino acids are nutrients as well as acting as chemical transmitters within the gastrointestinal tract. Gut glutamate research is the most advanced among 20 amino acids. Free glutamate carries the umami taste sensation on the tongue and a visceral sensation in the gut, especially the stomach. In the field of taste physiology, the physiological meaning of the glutamate-derived chemical sense, the umami taste, has been proposed to be a marker of protein intake. Experimental evidence in gut glutamate physiology strongly supports this hypothesis. Free glutamate is sensed by the abdominal vagus and regulates gastrointestinal functions such as secretion and emptying to accelerate protein digestion. Clinical application of glutamate has also just begun to treat gastrointestinal disorders such as dyspepsia, ulcer, dry mouth and functional dyspepsia. In this review, we introduce recent advances in gut glutamate research and consider the possible contribution of glutamate to health.