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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2003 Mar;36(3):358-63.

Body composition and components of energy expenditure in children with end-stage liver disease.

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Children's Nutrition Research Centre, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.



Better understanding of body composition and energy metabolism in pediatric liver disease may provide a scientific basis for improved medical therapy aimed at achieving optimal nutrition, slowing progression to end-stage liver disease (ESLD), and improving the outcome of liver transplantation.


Twenty-one children less than 2 years of age with ESLD awaiting liver transplantation and 15 healthy, aged-matched controls had body compartment analysis using a four compartment model (body cell mass, fat mass, extracellular water, and extracellular solids). Subjects also had measurements of resting energy expenditure (REE) and respiratory quotient (RQ) by indirect calorimetry. Nine patients and 15 control subjects also had measurements of total energy expenditure (TEE) using doubly labelled water.


Mean weights and heights were similar in the two groups. Compared with control subjects, children with ESLD had higher relative mean body cell mass (33 +/- 2% vs 29 +/- 1% of body weight, P < 0.05), but had similar fat mass, extracellular water, and extracellular solid compartments (18% vs 20%, 41% vs 38%, and 7% vs 13% of body weight respectively). Compared with control subjects, children with ESLD had 27% higher mean REE/body weight (0.285 +/- 0.013 vs 0.218. +/- 0.013 mJ/kg/24h, P < 0.001), 16% higher REE/unit cell mass (P < 0.05); and lower mean RQ (P < 0.05). Mean TEE of patients was 4.70 +/- 0.49 mJ/24h vs 3.19 +/- 0.76 in controls, (P < 0.01).


In children, ESLD is a hypermetabolic state adversely affecting the relationship between metabolic and nonmetabolic body compartments. There is increased metabolic activity within the body cell mass with excess lipid oxidation during fasting and at rest. These findings have implications for the design of appropriate nutritional therapy.

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