Effectiveness of 4-Week Oral Taurine Treatment for Muscle Cramps in Patients with Liver Cirrhosis: A Single-Arm Pilot Study

Yonsei Med J. 2021 Jan;62(1):21-28. doi: 10.3349/ymj.2021.62.1.21.

Abstract

Purpose: Painful muscle cramps are a common complication in liver cirrhosis patients, and no effective treatment is available. This pilot study aimed to evaluate whether taurine supplementation improves muscle cramps in Korean cirrhotic patients.

Materials and methods: Ten cirrhotic patients who experienced muscle cramps one or more times/week were enrolled in this prospective single-arm study and administered with an oral taurine solution (1 g/50 mL) thrice a day for 4 weeks. Taurine was discontinued for the subsequent 4 weeks. The frequency and intensity of muscle cramps were evaluated using a questionnaire at weeks 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 after the start of treatment.

Results: At baseline, the median frequency of muscle cramps was six times/week, and all patients had severe pain. Muscle cramp scores (frequency×intensity) decreased in seven patients by weeks 4 and 8 after treatment initiation. Compared to baseline muscle cramp scores [median 21, interquartile range (IQR): 8-84], median muscle cramp scores were lower at week 4 (6.5, IQR: 3-12, p=0.126) and week 8 (5, IQR: 1.5-56, p=0.066). All five patients whose baseline plasma taurine levels were below the normal limit showed increased taurine levels at week 4; 60% of them experienced improvements in their muscle cramps. Of the five patients with normal or higher taurine levels, 80% experienced an improvement in symptoms at week 4. The safety and tolerability of the 4-week taurine therapy were excellent.

Conclusion: Oral taurine therapy for 4 weeks improved muscle cramps safely in cirrhotic patients.

Keywords: Liver cirrhosis; muscle cramp; taurine.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Cramp / blood
  • Muscle Cramp / complications*
  • Muscle Cramp / drug therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Taurine / administration & dosage*
  • Taurine / blood
  • Taurine / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome

Substances

  • Taurine