Supplementation with branched-chain amino acids ameliorates hypoalbuminemia, prevents sarcopenia, and reduces fat accumulation in the skeletal muscles of patients with liver cirrhosis
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Liver cirrhosis induces marked metabolic disorders, protein-energy malnutrition, and sarcopenia. The objective of the study reported here was to investigate the effects of dietary branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) on systemic glucose metabolism, skeletal muscle, and prognosis of patients with liver cirrhosis.
Japanese patients with liver cirrhosis (n = 21) were enrolled into a longitudinal study in which their diets were supplemented with BCAAs. We evaluated glucose metabolism and analyzed the skeletal muscle area index (SAI) and intramuscular adipose tissue content (IMAC) using computed tomography.
After 48 weeks of supplementation with BCAAs, there were no changes in glucose metabolism and skeletal muscle findings. In patients with ameliorated hypoalbuminemia, IMAC was significantly decreased and SAI was preserved concomitant with decreasing 90- and 120-min post-challenge plasma glucose levels (P < 0.01 each). In patients without increased albumin levels, IMAC was significantly increased and the SAI was significantly decreased (P < 0.01 each). Liver-related event-free survival rates for 72 months were 63.6% in patients with decreased IMAC and 20.0% in patients with increased IMAC.
Amelioration of hypoalbuminemia associated with BCAA supplementation correlated with decreased fat accumulation in skeletal muscle, maintenance of skeletal muscle mass, and improved glucose sensitivity, all factors which may contribute to improving the survival of patients with liver cirrhosis.
KeywordsBranched-chain amino acids Skeletal muscle steatosis Sarcopenia Liver cirrhosis
We thank the medical staff at Eguchi Hospital and Professor Kyuichi Tanikawa (International Institute for Liver Research) for excellent advice. This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (2010) (#22590741 to Y.E.).
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.