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J Nutr. 2005 Jul;135(7):1818S-1823S.

Myopathies in critical illness: characterization and nutritional aspects.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, and the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Myopathies related to critical illness have received increasing recognition over the past decade and are common in patients even after a brief period in the intensive care unit. Recent studies have revealed that myopathies in the critically ill may in fact be more prevalent than neuropathies and that morbidity and mortality may be greater. Protein catabolism, an increase in urinary nitrogen loss, and muscle wasting are observed in critical illness myopathy. Muscle biopsies in critically ill patients demonstrate low glutamine levels, low protein/DNA levels, and high concentrations of extracellular water. The increased flux of glutamine in muscle in these patients is thought to be insufficient to meet the body's requirement for glutamine, and thus in critical illness this amino acid may be classified as "conditionally essential." Three subtypes of critical illness myopathy have been described that are often grouped together as acute quadriplegic myopathy: thick-filament myopathy, critical illness myopathy, and necrotizing myopathy. These can be differentiated based on clinical features and muscle biopsy. Treatments for critical illness myopathies range from primary prevention, i.e., avoiding myopathy-inducing drugs, to novel nutritional therapies, such as glutamine and glutathione supplementation. One should be particularly vigilant for the development of myopathies in critically ill alcoholic patients, who may have a chronic alcoholic myopathy at baseline. In the past decade, advances have been made in characterizing and identifying patients with myopathies due to critical illness. However, additional studies must be performed in order to develop appropriate therapies for this potentially devastating disorder.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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