Health Questions and Answers

Question: Can supplemental amino acids affect protein metabolism?

Answer:

Branched-chain amino acid infusions can decrease protein catabolism in cancer patients. Whether this alter clinical outcomes is yet to be defined. Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid important for gastrointestinal mucosal growth that is often depleted in cancer patients. Because of its instability in simple amino acid form, it is not routinely added to TPN. Surgical patients have improved nitrogen balance, improved protein synthesis, and improved T-lymphocyte response when glutamine is repleted in addition to TPN therapy. Whether this will aid the cancer population requires further study.

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