Background: To investigate whether supplementation with oral essential amino acids (EAAs) may reduce the occurrence of nosocomial infection among patients with brain injury (BI: stroke, trauma, anoxic coma).
Methods: Patients (n = 125; 77 men, 48 women; mean age 63 ± 15 years) with stroke (68.8%), subarachnoid hemorrhage (17.6%), traumatic BI (7.2%), and anoxic BI (6.4%) 88 ± 15 days after the index event. Patients were randomly assigned to 2 months of oral EAAs (n = 63; 8 g/d) or placebo (n = 62).
Results: Over the first month of rehabilitation, there were 60 infections in the whole population of 125 patients (48%); however, the rate was 23.2% lower in the EAA group (23 episodes/63 patients; 36.5%) than in the placebo group (37 episodes/62 patients; 59.7%) (P < .01). The types of infection were similarly distributed between the 2 groups. Serum levels of prealbumin <20 mg/dL and C-reactive protein (CRP) >0.3 mg/dL were the best predictors of future infection (prealbumin: odds ratio [OR] = 4.17, confidence interval [CI] 1.84-9.45, P < .001; CRP: OR = 3.8, CI 1.71-8.44, P < .001).
Conclusion: Supplementary EAAs may reduce the occurrence of nosocomial infections in rehabilitation patients with BI. Prealbumin and CRP are the best predictors of future infections.