Protein Intake, Fatigue and Quality of Life in Stable Outpatient Kidney Transplant Recipients

Nutrients. 2020 Aug 14;12(8):2451. doi: 10.3390/nu12082451.


Fatigue is a frequent complaint in kidney transplant recipients (KTR), often accompanied by poor quality of life (QoL). The role of nutrition as determinant of fatigue in KTR is largely unexplored. The aims of this study are to examine the association of protein intake with fatigue and QoL in KTR and to identify other determinants of fatigue. This cross-sectional study is part of the TransplantLines Cohort and Biobank Study (NCT03272841). Protein intake was calculated from urinary urea nitrogen (UUN) in 24-h urine samples. Fatigue was assessed by the Checklist Individual Strength (CIS) questionnaire; moderate and severe fatigue were defined as a CIS score of 20-34 and ≥ 35, respectively. QoL was assessed with the RAND-36-Item Health Survey (RAND-36). Associations of protein intake with fatigue and QoL were analyzed using multinomial logistic and linear regression analyses. We included 730 stable outpatient KTR (median age 58 year [IQR 48-65], 57% male) with a mean protein intake of 82.2 ± 21.3 g/d. Moderate and severe fatigue were present in 254 (35%) and 245 (34%) of KTR. Higher protein intake was significantly associated with lower risk of moderate fatigue (OR 0.89 per 10 g/d; 95%CI 0.83-0.98, p = 0.01), severe fatigue (OR 0.85; 95%CI 0.78-0.92, p < 0.001) and was associated with higher physical component summary score of QoL (β 0.74 per 10 g/d; 95%CI 0.39-1.09, p < 0.001). Higher BMI, a history of dialysis, glomerulonephritis as primary kidney disease and a history of combined organ transplantation were also associated with severe fatigue. In conclusion, amongst the potential modifiable factors of fatigue, higher protein intake is independently associated with lower risk of moderate and severe fatigue and with better QoL in KTR. These findings underline the need to incorporate nutritional assessment in the diagnostic work-up of fatigue. Intervention studies are needed to assess the benefits and safety of higher protein intake in KTR.

Keywords: fatigue; kidney transplantation; nutrition; protein; quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cholestyramine Resin
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Fatigue* / diagnosis
  • Fatigue* / etiology
  • Fatigue* / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Humans
  • Hypocreales
  • Kidney Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Outpatients*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Cholestyramine Resin

Supplementary concepts

  • Stylonectria carpini