Patients with cirrhosis who received branched-chain amino acid supplementation had a decreased risk for hepatocellular carcinoma and mortality, according to data from a recent study.
Investigators in Japan conducted a multicenter study of 299 patients with cirrhosis from 14 medical centers in 2009. Of those, 267 were available for follow-up through 2011. Patients diagnosed with hepatic encephalopathy or hypoalbuminemia (n=85) were assigned 5.5 g to 12 g branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements daily for more than 2 years; the remainder of the cohort, the control group, did not receive BCAA supplementation.
During the study, researchers found serum levels of albumin (P<.001), ferritin (P=.023), total cholesterol (P=.012) and BCAA-tyrosine ratio (P<.001) to be lower in the BCAA group compared with controls. Researchers also said 52 patients developed hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), 41 in the control group and 11 in the BCAA group. Eighteen patients died, including 16 control patients. Through Cox regression analysis, BCAA supplementation was found to be a negative risk factor associated with onsets of HCC (P=.026) and death (P=.007) after adjustments for other covariates. HCC incidence rate was lower in the BCAA group (RR=0.45; 95% CI, 0.24-0.88) compared with controls. BCAA patients also displayed a lower mortality rate (RR=0.009; 95% CI, 0.0002-0.365).
“We showed that BCAA supplementation significantly reduces the risk of hepatocarcinogenesis in cirrhotic patients,” the researchers concluded. “This multicenter study showed that the BCAA-to-tyrosine ratio was independently associated with the onset of HCC in cirrhotic patients.”
See the study for a full list of relevant financial disclosures.