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Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013 Mar;16(2):217-24. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e32835c20b0.

Specialized nutritional support interventions in critically ill patients on renal replacement therapy.

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Renal Failure Unit, Clinical and Experimental Medicine Department, Parma University, Parma, Italy.



Optimal nutritional requirements and nutrient intake composition for patients with acute kidney injury remain a partially unresolved issue. Targeting nutritional support to the actual protein and energy needs improves the clinical outcome of critically ill patients, yet very few data are currently available on this topic in acute kidney injury. In this specific clinical condition the risk for underfeeding and overfeeding may be increased by factors interfering on nutrient need estimation, such as rapidly changing body weight due to fluid balance variations, nutrient losses and hidden calorie sources from renal replacement therapy. Moreover, as acute kidney injury is now considered a kidney-centered inflammatory syndrome, the renoprotective role of specific pharmaconutrients with anti-inflammatory properties remains to be fully defined. This review is aimed at discussing recently published results concerning quantitative and qualitative aspects of the nutritional approach to acute kidney injury in critically ill patients.


Nutrient needs in patients with acute kidney injury can be difficult to estimate, and should be directly measured, especially in the ICU setting. In fact, recent findings suggest that hidden calorie sources not routinely taken into account - for example, calories from anticoagulants and replacement solutions for renal replacement therapy - could be quantitatively relevant in these patients. Moreover, recent experimental data indicate a possible role for some pharmaconutrients with anti-inflammatory effects (glutamine, and omega-3 fatty acids), in both the prevention of renal function worsening, and in the fostering of renal function recovery after an episode of acute kidney injury.


Acute kidney injury includes a highly heterogeneous group of patients with widely varying nutrient needs and intakes. Nutritional requirements, in their quantitative and qualitative aspects, should be frequently assessed, individualized, and carefully integrated with renal replacement therapy, in order to avoid both underfeeding and overfeeding, as well as to exploit possible positive pharmacologic effects of specific nutrients.

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