Background/purpose: Malnutrition and metabolic disorder of patients undergoing living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) can affect post-transplant prognosis. The aim of this study was to establish whether perioperative usage of branched-chain amino-acid (BCAA)-enriched nutrients improve metabolic abnormalities of patients undergoing LDLT.
Methods: We designed a randomized pilot study (UMIN registration number; 000004323). Twenty-five consecutive adult elective LDLT recipients were enroled and divided into two groups: the BCAA group (BCAA-enriched nutrients, n = 12) and the control group (standard diet, n = 13). Metabolic and nutritional parameters, including BCAA-to-tyrosine ratio (BTR), retinol binding protein (RBP), and prealbumin were regularly measured from 1 week before to 4 weeks after LDLT. Non-protein respiratory quotient (npRQ) was measured before and 4 weeks after LDLT.
Results: BTR and RBP improved considerably in the BCAA group compared with the controls. npRQ significantly increased from 1 week before LDLT to 4 weeks after LDLT in the BCAA group (0.77 ± 0.05 to 0.84 ± 0.06, P = 0.002), but not in the control group (0.78 ± 0.04 to 0.81 ± 0.05).
Conclusions: Supplementation with BCAA-enriched nutrients might improve persistent nutritional and metabolic disorders associated with end-stage liver disease in the early post-transplant period, and consequently shorten the post-transplant catabolic phase after LDLT. A larger multicenter trial is needed to confirm these findings.