Role of nutrition in the management of hepatic encephalopathy in end-stage liver failure

J Nutr Metab. 2010:2010:489823. doi: 10.1155/2010/489823. Epub 2010 Dec 22.


Malnutrition is common in patients with end-stage liver failure and hepatic encephalopathy, and is considered a significant prognostic factor affecting quality of life, outcome, and survival. The liver plays a crucial role in the regulation of nutrition by trafficking the metabolism of nutrients, their distribution and appropriate use by the body. Nutritional consequences with the potential to cause nervous system dysfunction occur in liver failure, and many factors contribute to malnutrition in hepatic failure. Among them are inadequate dietary intake, malabsorption, increased protein losses, hypermetabolism, insulin resistance, gastrointestinal bleeding, ascites, inflammation/infection, and hyponatremia. Patients at risk of malnutrition are relatively difficult to identify since liver disease may interfere with biomarkers of malnutrition. The supplementation of the diet with amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins as well as probiotics in addition to meeting energy and protein requirements may improve nutritional status, liver function, and hepatic encephalopathy in patients with end-stage liver failure.