Kazuto Tajiri, The Third Department of Internal Medicine, Toyama University Hospital, Toyama 930-0194, Japan.
Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) have been shown to affect gene expression, protein metabolism, apoptosis and regeneration of hepatocytes, and insulin resistance. They have also been shown to inhibit the proliferation of liver cancer cells in vitro, and are essential for lymphocyte proliferation and dendritic cell maturation. In patients with advanced chronic liver disease, BCAA concentrations are low, whereas the concentrations of aromatic amino acids such as phenylalanine and tyrosine are high, conditions that may be closely associated with hepatic encephalopathy and the prognosis of these patients. Based on these basic observations, patients with advanced chronic liver disease have been treated clinically with BCAA-rich medicines, with positive effects.