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Gastroenterol Jpn. 1981;16(1):64-70.

Augmented utilization of branched-chain amino acids by skeletal muscle in decompensated liver cirrhosis in special relation to ammonia detoxication.


Femoral arterio-venous (A-V) differences of blood free amino acids and plasma ammonia (NH3) were simultaneously determined after an overnight fast in 16 patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis in the absence and presence of encephalopathy, as compared with those in 8 control subjects. In spite of increased releases of phenylalanine (Phe) and tyrosine (Tyr) from the peripheral tissue, releases of isoleucine (Ile) and leucine (Leu) as well as alanine (Ala) were found to be significantly reduced in decompensated liver cirrhosis, particularly in the presence of hepatic encephalopathy. Furthermore, NH3 was found to be significantly taken up by the skeletal muscle of these patients, and a positive correlation was observed between arterial NH3 level and the A-V differences of Leu, of Ile and of Ala. These findings strongly suggest that net degradation (or utilization) of branched-chain amino acids (in particular, Leu and Ile) is enhanced in the muscle for detoxication of ammonia (i.e., glutamine synthesis) by supplying the carbon skeleton and energy in cirrhosis of the liver.

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