Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) improve disorders of albumin metabolism, quality of life, subjective symptoms, and prognosis in patients with chronic hepatitis. However, it remains unclear whether they improve insulin resistance. We examined the effects of BCAAs on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in patients with chronic hepatitis C and insulin resistance. Individuals with a definitive diagnosis of chronic hepatitis C and insulin resistance were eligible for participation. Eligible participants were randomly assigned to the BCAA group or a control group. Participants were then crossed over to the other treatment for a further 12 weeks. Baseline clinical features, laboratory markers, fatty acid levels, and insulin sensitivity, assessed with oral glucose tolerance tests and a hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp, were also examined before and 12 and 24 weeks after the beginning of the study. Of the 27 patients who completed the study, 14 began in the BCAA group and 13 began as controls. There were no significant differences in glucose metabolism parameters or lipid profiles between the groups. HbA1c values were improved in 10 patients and worsened or remained unchanged in 17 patients. The only predictive variable for change in HbA1c was the baseline Matsuda index: the lower the index, the greater the improvement in HbA1c values. BCAA therapy did not have adverse effects on glucose tolerance or insulin sensitivity in patients with chronic hepatitis C and insulin resistance. Moreover, it had a therapeutic effect on HbA1c values in patients with marked peripheral (primarily muscle) insulin resistance.
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