Branched-chain amino acids in liver diseases

Kazuto Tajiri, Yukihiro Shimizu


Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are involved in various bioprocess such as protein metabolism, gene expression, insulin resistance and proliferation of hepatocytes. BCAAs have also been reported to suppress the growth of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells in vitro and to be required for immune cells to perform the function. In advanced cirrhotic patients, it has been clarified that serum concentrations of BCAA are decreased, whereas those of aromatic amino acids (AAAs) are increased. These alterations are thought to be the causes of hepatic encephalopathy (HE), sarcopenia and hepatocarcinogenesis and may be associated with the poor prognosis of patients with these conditions. Administration of BCAA-rich medicines has shown positive results in patients with cirrhosis.