Aims: Among people with diabetes, 10-25% will experience a foot ulcer. Research has shown that supplementation with arginine, glutamine and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate may improve wound repair. This study tested whether such supplementation would improve healing of foot ulcers in persons with diabetes.
Methods: Along with standard of care, 270 subjects received, in a double-blinded fashion, (twice per day) either arginine, glutamine and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate or a control drink for 16 weeks. The proportion of subjects with total wound closure and time to complete healing was assessed. In a post-hoc analysis, the interaction of serum albumin or limb perfusion, as measured by ankle-brachial index, and supplementation on healing was investigated.
Results: Overall, there were no group differences in wound closure or time to wound healing at week 16. However, in subjects with an albumin level of ≤ 40 g/l and/or an ankle-brachial index of < 1.0, a significantly greater proportion of subjects in the arginine, glutamine and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate group healed at week 16 compared with control subjects (P = 0.03 and 0.008, respectively). Those with low albumin or decreased limb perfusion in the supplementation group were 1.70 (95% CI 1.04-2.79) and 1.66 (95% CI 1.15-2.38) times more likely to heal.
Conclusions: While no differences in healing were identified with supplementation in non-ischaemic patients or those with normal albumin, addition of arginine, glutamine and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate as an adjunct to standard of care may improve healing of diabetic foot ulcers in patients with risk of poor limb perfusion and/or low albumin levels. Further investigation involving arginine, glutamine and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate in these high-risk subgroups might prove clinically valuable.
© 2014 The Authors. Diabetic Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Diabetes UK.