Background: It has been hypothesized that correction of metabolic acidosis might improve the nutritional state of acidotic haemodialysis (HD) patients partly because of a reduced oxidation of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA).
Aim: We investigated whether bicarbonate (Bic) supplementation in acidotic HD patients results in increased plasma levels of BCAA.
Methods: In a longitudinal study (run-in period, 2 months; study period, 6 months), the effect of Bic supplementation on plasma levels of BCAA was studied in 12 acidotic HD patients (7 men, 5 women, mean age 54 +/- 18 years) with a predialysis bicarbonate (Bic) concentration smaller or equal to 22 mmol/l. Bic was supplemented by increasing Bic concentration of the dialysate and by oral Bic supplementation.
Results: Predialysis Bic increased significantly during the study period (18.7 +/- 2.7 vs. 23.1 +/- 11.5 mmol/l). There was no change in nutritional parameters. However, plasma levels of the BCAA valine, leucine, and isoleucine increased significantly.
Conclusions: In haemodialysis patients with metabolic acidosis, Bic supplementation over a 6-months period resulted in an increase in plasma levels of BCAA. Further study is needed to elucidate the mechanisms behind, and the clinical importance of the observed changes in plasma BCAA levels.