It has been reported that branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation can improve nutritional status and prevent liver-related complications in patients with decompensated cirrhosis. We investigated the effects of oral BCAA supplementation on the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and liver-related events in patients with compensated and decompensated cirrhosis.
We enrolled 211 patients with cirrhosis including 152 patients with Child-Pugh A cirrhosis, but no history of HCC. Of these, 56 received oral administration of 12 g/day BCAA for ≥6 months (BCAA group), and 155 were followed-up without BCAA treatment (control group). The HCC occurrence and event-free survival rates were compared between the two groups. We used a propensity score analysis to overcome selection bias of this retrospective analysis.
The HCC occurrence rate was significantly lower and event-free survival rate was significantly higher in the BCAA group than in the control group. Multivariate analyses showed BCAA supplementation was significantly associated with reduced incidence of HCC (hazard ratio (HR) 0.416, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.216-0.800, p = 0.0085). BCAA supplementation also reduced the incidence of liver-related events in patients with Child-Pugh A cirrhosis, although the difference did not reach statistical significance (HR 0.585, 95% CI 0.336-1.017, p = 0.0575).
Oral BCAA supplementation is associated with reduced incidence of HCC in patients with cirrhosis and seems to prevent liver-related events in patients with Child-Pugh A cirrhosis.