Nutritional Strategies to Manage Malnutrition and Sarcopenia following Liver Transplantation: A Narrative Review

Nutrients. 2023 Feb 10;15(4):903. doi: 10.3390/nu15040903.


Persisting or newly developed malnutrition and sarcopenia after liver transplant (LT) are correlated with adverse health outcomes. This narrative review aims to examine the literature regarding nutrition strategies to manage malnutrition and sarcopenia after LT. The secondary aims are to provide an overview of the effect of nutrition strategies on the incidence of infections, hospital length of stay (LOS), acute cellular rejection (ACR), and mortality after LT. Four databases were searched. A total of 25 studies, mostly of mid-high quality, were included. Six studies found a beneficial effect on nutritional parameters using branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), immunomodulating diet (IMD), or enteral nutrition (EN) whereas two studies using beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) found a beneficial effect on muscle mass and function. Fourteen studies using pre- or pro-biotics, IMD, and EN were effective in lowering infection and six studies using IMD, BCAA or HMB reported reduced hospital LOS. Finally, four studies using HMB and vitamin D were effective in reducing ACR and one study reported reduced mortality using vitamin D after LT. In conclusion, nutritional intervention after LT has different beneficial effects on malnutrition, sarcopenia, and other advert outcomes. Additional large and well-constructed RCTs using validated tools to assess nutritional status and sarcopenia are warranted to ensure more robust conclusions.

Keywords: acute cellular rejection; hospital length of stay; infections; liver transplant; malnutrition; mortality; nutritional intervention; sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Malnutrition* / epidemiology
  • Nutritional Status
  • Sarcopenia* / etiology
  • Vitamin D


  • Vitamin D