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Keywords:

  • branched-chain amino acids (BCAA);
  • human mercaptalbumin (HMA);
  • human non-mercaptalbumin (HNA);
  • liver cirrhosis;
  • oxidized albumin;
  • reduced albumin

Aim:  Branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation improves hypoalbuminemia in decompensated cirrhotics. Recently, it was clarified that the ratio of oxidized albumin within total albumin rises with progression of liver cirrhosis. We conducted a feasibility study to investigate whether BCAA supplementation might improve this ratio.

Methods:  Seven cirrhotic patients (age: 70 ±> 6 years; M/F = 4/3; etiology: hepatitis C in six and non-B/non-C hepatitis virus in one; Child–Pugh classification: A in six and B in one) were enrolled consecutively in this study in October 2004 to March 2005. Patients were given 4 g BCAA after each meal for 8 weeks. Serum total, oxidized and reduced albumin, plasma amino acids, glutathione, zinc, selenium, and lipid peroxide concentrations were measured every 2 weeks.

Results:  Low total albumin, high oxidized albumin, and low reduced albumin levels were observed at entry. After 8 weeksBCAA supplementation, the ratio of oxidized albumin within total albumin decreased significantly and that of reduced albumin increased significantly (P < 0.05, respectively). Total albumin tended to rise and lipid peroxide concentrations tended to fall, but not significantly.

Conclusion:  BCAA supplementation improved the oxidized/reduced state of serum albumin. This intervention is effective to maintain the quality of serum albumin in cirrhotic patients.