Parenteral administration of different amounts of branch-chain amino acids in septic patients: clinical and metabolic aspects

Crit Care Med. 1997 Mar;25(3):418-24. doi: 10.1097/00003246-199703000-00008.


Objective: To study the effects of a total parenteral nutrition solution changing branch-chain amino acid concentrations and/or nitrogen supply on protein metabolism, length of stay, and mortality rate; and to evaluate the unique metabolic status of sepsis that leads to a search for specific total parenteral nutrition formulas.

Design: Prospective, randomized, and multicenter study.

Setting: Intensive care units (ICUs) in seven university hospitals.

Patients: Sixty-nine septic patients.

Measurements and main results: The patients were randomized into three groups according to the total parenteral nutrition administered. Group A (n = 22) and B (n = 25) patients received 1.5 g of amino acids/kg/day with a nonprotein ratio of 100:1 calories/g of nitrogen, and a varying branch-chain amino acids percentage (group A [23%); group B [45%]). Group C patients were treated with 1.1 g/kg/day of amino acids with a nonprotein ratio of 140:1 calories/g of nitrogen and 45% branch-chain amino acids. All diets were isocaloric. Prealbumin, retinol-binding protein, nitrogen balance, and plasma amino acid profiles (24 amino acids) were determined at baseline and after 3, 7, and 11 days of total parenteral nutrition. The length of stay and the mortality rate in the ICU were recorded. At baseline (preparenteral nutrition), no differences in age, gender, severity of the condition, or clinical chemistry were found between the groups. Prealbumin and retinol-binding protein increased in groups B (p < .004, p < .002, respectively) and C (p < .001, p < .002, respectively). Plasma arginine increased significantly in group C (p < .05), and plasma valine (p < .0001, p < .04, respectively), leucine (p < .005, p < .03, respectively), and isoleucine (p < .001, p < .0001, respectively) increased significantly in groups B and C. The length of stay in the ICU did not change between the groups. The mortality rate in groups B and C was less than in group A (p < .03).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the branch-chain amino acids-rich formulas (45%) show a beneficial effect in septic patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / blood
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total / methods*
  • Prealbumin / metabolism
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins, Plasma
  • Sepsis / metabolism*
  • Sepsis / mortality*
  • Sepsis / therapy*


  • Amino Acids
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain
  • Prealbumin
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins, Plasma