Background: Nocturnal administration of branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) granules improves serum albumin levels in patients with cirrhosis. However, it is unclear whether or not this administration method can improve the patients' quality of life (QOL). In this study, we aimed to investigate the efficacy of BCAA granules, given nocturnally, in improving QOL in these patients.
Methods: We performed a multicenter, randomized controlled trial examining the comparative effects of BCAA granules given orally for 3 months with daytime or nocturnal administration in patients with compensated cirrhosis. Health-related QOL was measured by a Japanese version of the questionnaire on subjective and objective symptoms, and the Short Form-8 (SF-8) questionnaire.
Results: Twenty-one patients received BCAA granules three times a day (one sachet after each meal: the daytime group), and 16 patients received the granules twice a day (one sachet after breakfast, and two sachets before bedtime: the nocturnal group). Baseline characteristics did not differ between the groups (whole cohort: Child-Pugh grade A/B, 21/16; mean age, 68.2 years). There was no significant difference in any of the subjects revealed by the questionnaire regarding subjective or objective symptoms, or by the SF-8 between the daytime group and the nocturnal group after 3 months of treatment. The daytime group showed a significant effect on general health, vitality, social functioning, mental health, and role emotional as revealed on the SF-8. Conversely, the nocturnal group exhibited a significant decrease in the occurrence of muscle cramps in the legs (P = 0.014) and significantly improved Fisher's ratio after 3 months (P = 0.04).
Conclusions: Nocturnal administration of BCAA granules in patients with cirrhosis reduced the occurrence of muscle cramps in the leg but did not improve the patients' QOL.