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Clin Nutr. 2003 Dec;22(6):553-9.

Malnutrition is not related to alterations in energy balance in patients with stable liver cirrhosis.

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Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy.



Little information are available on the relationship between energy balance and the alterations in nutritional status occurring in cirrhotic patients. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the daily energy balance in clinically stable cirrhotic patients with or without malnutrition.


Seventy-four consecutive cirrhotic patients and nine healthy controls were studied.


Basal energy expenditure was measured by indirect calorimetry and adjusted according to the patients' physical activity to estimate the daily energy expenditure. Food intake was evaluated based on a 3-day dietary diary. Nutritional status and body composition were assessed using skinfold anthropometry and dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, respectively.


Thirty-two patients in the cirrhotic group were classified as severely malnourished according to anthropometric parameters. Two different patterns of soft-tissue loss were observed in the malnourished cirrhotic group: a significant reduction in fat mass and in fat-free mass was observed in males, whereas, females showed a significant reduction in fat mass only. Basal energy expenditure was similar in all groups, while the non-protein respiratory quotient was lower in cirrhotics notwithstanding their nutritional status. This suggests that lipids were the preferred oxidized fuel in the post-absorptive state in these patients. No difference in the estimated daily energy expenditure and energy intake was observed among groups. Lipid content of the diet was significantly lower in malnourished cirrhotics than in controls (33.1+/-1% vs 37.8+/-1%, P=0.02).


Cirrhotic patients in stable clinical condition with malnutrition show a normal energy balance.

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