Journal Article

Oral supplementation of branched‐chain amino acid improves nutritional status in elderly patients on chronic haemodialysis

Kinya Hiroshige, Toshiyo Sonta, Takeshi Suda, Kaori Kanegae and Akira Ohtani

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Published on behalf of European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Assoc

Volume 16, issue 9, pages 1856-1862
Published in print September 2001 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online September 2001 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI:
Oral supplementation of branched‐chain amino acid improves nutritional status in elderly patients on chronic haemodialysis

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Background. Anorexia may be associated with decreased plasma levels of branched‐chain amino acids (BCAA). In malnourished elderly haemodialysis (HD) patients, oral BCAA supplementation may improve anorexia, resulting in improved nutritional status.

Methods. Among 44 elderly (age >70 years) patients on chronic HD, 28 patients with low plasma albumin concentration (<3.5 g/dl) were classified as the malnourished group; they also suffered from anorexia. The other 16 patients did not complain of anorexia and were classified as the well‐nourished group. We performed a 12‐month, placebo‐controlled, double‐blind study on the malnourished group. Fourteen patients each received daily oral BCAA supplementation (12 g/day) or a placebo in random order in a crossover trial for 6 months. Body fat percentage, lean body mass, plasma albumin concentration, dietary protein and caloric intakes, and plasma amino acid profiles were monitored.

Results. Lower plasma levels of BCAA and lower protein and caloric intakes were found in the malnourished group as compared to the well‐nourished group. In BCAA‐treated malnourished patients, anorexia and poor oral protein and caloric intakes improved within a month concomitant with the improvement in plasma BCAA levels over the values in well‐nourished patients. After 6 months of BCAA supplementation, anthropometric indices showed a statistically significant increase and mean plasma albumin concentration increased from 3.31 g/dl to 3.93 g/dl. After exchanging BCAA for a placebo, spontaneous oral food intake decreased, but the favourable nutritional status persisted for the next 6 months. In 14 patients initially treated with a placebo, no significant changes in nutritional parameters were observed during the first 6 months. However, positive results were obtained by BCAA supplementation during the subsequent 6 months, and mean plasma albumin concentration increased from 3.27 g/dl to 3.81 g/dl.

Conclusions. Normalization of low plasma levels of BCAA by oral supplementation can reduce anorexia and significantly improve overall nutritional status in elderly malnourished HD patients.

Keywords: branched‐chain amino acids; dietary intake; elderly patient; haemodialysis; nutrition

Journal Article.  4137 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Nephrology

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