Branched chain amino acid therapy in liver disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Patients with hepatic cirrhosis often are malnourished and wasted. If portal-systemic encephalopathy (PSE) develops, restriction of dietary protein in an attempt to treat encephalopathy may further promote negative nitrogen balance. There is considerable interest in providing nutritional supplements to patients with cirrhosis and PSE which would lead to improvement in nitrogen balance while improving or at least not worsening PSE. Amino acid supplements designed to correct the abnormal amino acid pattern characteristically found in patients with cirrhosis and PSE are under investigation as potential therapeutic agents. The levels of the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are decreased in almost all patients with cirrhosis and PSE. The exact mechanism for the reductions in BCAA concentrations is unknown. Furthermore, aromatic amino acids (AAA) and methionine (MET) concentrations are usually increased in these patients. It has been suggested that BCAAs and neutral amino acids compete for transport across the blood-brain barrier and that a decrease in BCAA concentrations promotes entrance of neutral amino acids into the brain. Aromatic amino acids, MET, and their derivatives may have a role in the production of PSE. These observations have increased interest in the potential therapeutic benefit of administering BCAAs to patients with cirrhosis and PSE in order to decrease the entrance of putative toxins into the brain. Treatment trials using BCAAs alone or in solutions containing other amino acids in patients with cirrhosis and PSE have given conflicting results. In one trial, there appeared to be less PSE induced by a BCAA-enriched solution when compared to equinitrogenous dietary protein. However, other controlled studies have not demonstrated any advantage to the addition of BCAAs as compared to placebo with regards to reducing mortality or improving cerebral function in patients with acute cirrhosis and PSE. Some of the differences in study outcomes may relate to the patient population evaluated; the type, amount, and duration of treatment; and whether other therapy was administered. BCAA supplements may also be useful in minimizing or reversing the catabolic state characteristic of patients with cirrhosis. A reduction of increased urinary 3-methylhistidine excretion by infusions of BCAAs in cirrhotic patients suggests an anticatabolic effect. These potential anticatabolic effects of BCAAs are most interesting and deserve further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-650
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American College of Nutrition
Volume4
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1985

Fingerprint

Branched Chain Amino Acids
encephalopathy
branched chain amino acids
liver diseases
Hepatic Encephalopathy
Liver Diseases
therapeutics
Fibrosis
amino acids
Therapeutics
Neutral Amino Acids
Aromatic Amino Acids
Dietary Proteins
nitrogen balance
Amino Acids
Methionine
dietary protein
aromatic compounds
methionine
Nitrogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Branched chain amino acid therapy in liver disease. / Maddrey, W. C.

In: Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 4, No. 6, 1985, p. 639-650.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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