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J Hepatol. 1993 Mar;17(3):377-83.

Nocturnal oral glucose supplementation. The effects on protein metabolism in cirrhotic patients and in healthy controls.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine II, University Hospital Dijkzigt, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Nocturnal glucose administration might prevent gluconeogenesis and concomitant protein loss due to hepatic glycogen depletion. In this study the effects of nocturnal oral glucose supplements on nitrogen metabolism were investigated in 8 cirrhotic patients and in 8 healthy controls. During the night, either polymeric glucose was given or water as placebo. In the patients with cirrhosis on placebo, nitrogen balance was not different from controls: -63 +/- 8 vs. -55 +/- 4 mg N/kg b.wt./9 h (mean +/- SEM). Cirrhotic patients had increased nocturnal protein turnover rates (measured with 15N-glycine) and increased early morning levels of free fatty acids (FFA), lactate, insulin, glucagon and growth hormone. After glucose, nitrogen balance improved by 36% in the cirrhotic group, with a decrease in protein turnover rates and a decrease in plasma levels of beta-hydroxybutyrate, urea and glucagon. In the controls, glucose had no effects on nitrogen balance, on protein turnover or on the hormone levels, except for reduced FFA and ketone body levels. These data show that nocturnal calorie supplements improve nitrogen balance during the night in cirrhotic patients but not in healthy controls. Long interprandial intervals should be avoided in cirrhotic patients.

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