3 years ago

Effects of branched chain amino acid supplementation on patient care outcomes in adults and children with liver cirrhosis: A systematic review

P.h. Ooi, S.m. Gilmour, J. Yap, D.r. Mager

Publication date: December 2018

Source: Clinical Nutrition ESPEN, Volume 28

Author(s): P.H. Ooi, S.M. Gilmour, J. Yap, D.R. Mager

Background & Aims

Malnutrition is highly prevalent in chronic liver disease (CLD) due to alterations in nutrient utilization, malabsorption and poor intake. Low serum concentrations of branched chain amino acids (BCAA) in the presence of elevated aromatic acid concentrations is commonly observed in adult and children with liver cirrhosis and is associated with malnutrition and other adverse patient outcomes. The efficacy of BCAA supplementation has not been well established in adults and children with CLD. The purpose of this review was to critically evaluate the literature regarding the impact of BCAA supplementation related to changes in body composition, muscle strength, liver biomarkers, medical and hepatic complications (hepatic encephalopathy (HE), ascites, edema) and patient care outcomes (event free survival, health related quality of life, length of hospitalization).


A total of 40 articles retrieved from PubMed or Web of Science databases (1989–2017) were included.


BCAA supplementation may be beneficial in improving muscle strength, ascites and edema with potential clinically significant improvements in HE in adult liver patients. In children, limited data have shown that BCAA supplementation may exert favourable effects on weight, fat mass, fat free mass and serum albumin level.


Heterogeneity of study findings attributed to variability in BCAA dose (total, relative proportions), duration, disease severity and lack of uniformity in tools used for assessing patient outcomes limit overall conclusions. Longitudinal studies examining the efficacy of BCAA supplementation as a therapeutic treatment of malnutrition in chronic liver disease is warranted.

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