Background: The current study was designed to examine whether a combination of three nutrients, consisting of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), a metabolite of leucine, L-glutamine (Gln) and L-arginine (Arg), each of which has been previously shown to slow muscle proteolysis, could synergistically alter the course of muscle wasting in patients with established acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Methods: Sixty-eight human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients with a documented weight loss of at least 5% in the previous 3 months were recruited from the HIV clinic at Nassau County Medical Center. The subjects were randomly assigned in a double-blind fashion to receive either placebo containing maltodextrin or the nutrient mixture (HMB/Arg/Gln) containing 3 g HMB, 14 g L-glutamine, and 14 g L-arginine given in two divided doses daily for 8 weeks. Body weights (BW) were recorded weekly and lean body mass (LBM) and fat mass (FM) were measured by air displacement plethysmography and by a single computerized tomography (CT) slice through the thigh at 0, 4, and 8 weeks.
Results: Forty-three subjects completed the 8-week protocol, (placebo, n = 21; HMB/Arg/Gln, n = 22). At 8 weeks, the subjects consuming the HMB/Arg/Gln mixture gained 3.0 +/- 0.5 kg of BW while those supplemented with the placebo gained 0.37 +/- 0.84 kg (p = .009). The BW gain in the HMB/Arg/Gln-treated subjects was predominantly LBM (2.55 +/- 0.75 kg) compared with the placebo-supplemented subjects who lost lean mass (-0.70 +/- 0.69 kg, p = .003). No significant change in FM gain was observed (0.43 +/- 0.83 kg for the group receiving HMB/Arg/Gln and 1.07 +/- 0.64 kg for the group receiving the placebo, p > .20). Similar percentage changes in muscle mass and fat mass were observed with CT scans. Immune status was also improved as evident by an increase in CD3 and CD8 cells and a decrease in the HIV viral load with HMB/Arg/Gln supplementation.
Conclusions: The data indicate that the HMB/Arg/Gln mixture can markedly alter the course of lean tissue loss in patients with AIDS-associated wasting.