Thirty seven patients with established cirrhosis of the liver were subjected to measurement of body protein metabolism using L-(1-14C) labelled leucine as a tracer. The effects of disease severity and those of solutions containing 0%, 16%, 35%, 53%, and 100% branched chain amino acids were evaluated. Significant increases in protein synthesis were noted with solutions containing 35%, 53%, and 100% branched chain amino acids, but in patients receiving 100% branched chain amino acids without additional essential amino acid supplement the increase in synthesis was matched by a significant increase in protein breakdown. Protein balance was thus improved only in patients receiving 35% and 53% branched chain amino acids. It was concluded that the high increase in protein breakdown in patients receiving 100% branched chain amino acids was undesirable, and such a solution should not be recommended for clinical use.
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