Indexed on: 21 Dec '04Published on: 21 Dec '04Published in: Hepatology Research
We discuss branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) treatment for the management of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) and protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) in patients with liver cirrhosis (LC). PEM is closely associated with the prognosis of patients with LC independently of liver function. Therefore, adequate protein and energy intake is a fundamental management to improve the status of PEM in patients with LC. However, it is difficult to maintain good nutritional status with diet therapy alone in patients with LC, because the majority of these patients have disturbances of the nutritious metabolism including urea synthesis in the liver, together with the existence of portal-systemic shunt which is related with the pathogenesis of HE. BCAA enriched amino acid solution was administered at first to treat chronic HE based on amino acid imbalance and neurotransmitter theory. Furthermore, recent studies have suggested that the supplement of BCAA enriched oral mixture and BCAA granules with diet therapy might improve the status of PEM in patients with LC. However, as the effects of these BCAA supplements are basically related to the severity of liver damage, further investigations are required to identify the efficacy of these treatments.