• branched-chain amino acid;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • indirect calorimetry;
  • liver cirrhosis;
  • malnutrition;
  • quality of life;
  • radiofrequency ablation


Background and Aim:  This prospective control study examined whether supplementation with branched-chain amino acid (BCAA)-enriched nutrients can help maintain and improve residual liver function and nutritional status in cirrhotic patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after radiofrequency ablation (RFA).

Methods:  Subjects were 49 patients with hepatitis C-related HCC who underwent RFA. Two groups were formed: BCAA group (BCAA-enriched nutrient, aminoleban EN) and controls (standard diet only). Event-free survival rate, liver function tests, and Short Form (SF)-8 scores were evaluated in both groups before and one year after RFA. Energy metabolism using indirect calorimetry was measured before and after 3 months.

Results:  Complete data were obtained from 35 patients (BCAA group, n = 20; controls, n = 15). Six events (death, recurrence of HCC, rupture of esophageal varices and liver failure) occurred during the observation period, but frequencies of these events did not differ between groups. Event-free survival rate tended to be higher in the BCA group than in controls. Among the parameters of liver function, serum albumin level was only significantly increased over 6 months, and remained at similar values for one year (P < 0.05). SF-8 scores for general health, physical functioning, and social functioning were significantly elevated in the BCAA group (P < 0.05). Non-protein respiratory quotient was significantly improved in the BCAA group (P < 0.01).

Conclusion:  Supplementation with BCAA-enriched nutrients for one year in cirrhotic patients with HCC after RFA therapy can perform safety and improve both nutritional state and quality of life.