Aim: In patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-associated chronic liver diseases, especially in those with liver cirrhosis, accurate evaluation of their protein nutrition status is very important to improve their quality of life. Whereas the serum albumin level is commonly used to evaluate patients' protein nutrition status, in the present study, the serum amino acid levels were measured, as they also provide valuable information.
Methods: Serum albumin levels and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) to tyrosine ratio (BTR) were determined in 447 patients with HCV-associated chronic liver diseases (313 with chronic hepatitis and 134 with liver cirrhosis).
Results: Chronic hepatitis progressed to liver cirrhosis, serum albumin and serum BTR levels decreased significantlyas chronic hepatitis progressed to liver cirrhosis. Hypoalbuminemia was significantly more common in patients with liver cirrhosis than in those with chronic hepatitis; however, the incidence of an amino acid imbalance was significantly higher than that of hypoalbuminemia in patients with liver cirrhosis. The presence of an amino acid imbalance was associated with a reduction in the serum albumin level 1 year later.
Conclusions: It is important to evaluate serum albumin levels and the BTR in patients with HCV-associated chronic liver diseases.