[Protein catabolism and malnutrition in liver cirrhosis - impact of oral nutritional therapy].Z Gastroenterol. 2010 Jul; 48(7):763-70.ZG
Malnutrition with loss of muscle is common in patients with liver cirrhosis and has negative impact on morbidity and mortality. The aetiology of malnutrition is multifactorial and includes inflammation, early onset of gluconeogenesis due to impaired glycogen storage and sometimes hypermetabolism. Reduced nutritional intake, however, plays the most important role in the pathogenesis of malnutrition. There is, however, ample evidence that nutritional intake and therapy are inadequate in liver cirrhosis although studies have clearly shown that dietary counselling and nutritional therapy with oral supplements improve intake in these patients. Protein requirement is considered to be increased in liver cirrhosis and high protein intake has been shown to be well tolerated and associated with an improvement of liver function and nutritional status. Protein intolerance on the other hand is uncommon and hepatic encephalopathy can thus rarely be attributed to high protein consumption. Recommendations for general protein restriction must therefore be considered obsolete and rather a risk factor for an impaired clinical outcome. Furthermore, the administration of late evening meals is highly beneficial in patients with liver disease since the rapid onset of the overnight catabolic state is counteracted. The serum concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) is decreased in patients with liver cirrhosis and long-term supplementation of BCAA has been shown to improve nutritional status and prolong event-free survival and quality of life.