Essential amino acids reduce liver fat levels
Essential amino acids reduce liver fat levels

Essential Amino Acid Supplement Lowers Intrahepatic Lipid Despite Excess Alcohol Consumption

Overview

Excess alcohol consumption greatly increases the risk of hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease), which develops in as many as 95% of chronic alcohol users. Approximately 8%-20% of people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) will develop cirrhosis. Unfortunately, even after a life-threatening diagnosis, people with AUD will continue to drink and remain malnourished, which further worsens their condition. A nutritional supplement designed to target the unique metabolic issues of fatty liver disease may help improve symptoms and delay progression.

Trial Length

4 weeks

Number of Subjects

20

Gender

All genders

Age Range

17 - 53

The Goal

In previous studies, researchers discovered that supplementation with essential amino acids (EAAs) increased protein synthesis and decreased liver fat content in the elderly. In the present study, researchers examined the effects of an essential amino acid supplement on liver fat, body composition, and blood lipids in males and females with mild to moderate alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Because essential amino acids promote mitochondrial protein synthesis in the liver and also stimulate the synthesis of proteins responsible for transporting fat out of the liver, researchers anticipated that an EAA supplement of either 8 grams or 13 grams would decrease excess intrahepatic lipids even when alcohol use stayed the same. 

The Results

Twenty participants with elevated levels of intrahepatic lipid (IHL) received either a low dose of EAAs (8 grams) or a high dose of EAAs (13 grams) twice a day for 4 weeks. The high-dose EAAs lowered IHL in the liver by 23%. The reduction in IHL was nearly half of what was needed to return IHL levels to normal. However, no statistically significant change was shown with the low-dose EAAs. Graph showing improvement in intrahepatic lipid in patients using essential amino acid supplements

No alterations to fat mass, lean tissue mass, bone mineral content, or blood lipids occured, which was expected due to the overall normal ranges for blood parameters.

Conclusion

A high-dose EAA supplement of 13 grams taken twice a day can lower intrahepatic lipid content in people with alcohol use disorder even when alcohol consumption remains unchanged. 


The Why?

Adhering to behavioral and lifestyle modifications is extremely difficult for individuals with AUD, with only 7% ever seeking professional help. Supplementation with a targeted high-dose of essential amino acids can help reduce excessive accumulation of IHL and offset the harmful effects of alcohol even when no other nutritional changes occur and alcohol consumption stays the same.  


Citation

Coker MS, Ladd KR, Kim J, et al. Essential Amino Acid Supplement Lowers Intrahepatic Lipid despite Excess Alcohol Consumption. Nutrients. 2020;12(1):254. Published 2020 Jan 19. doi:10.3390/nu12010254