Young woman using nebulizer
Young woman using nebulizer

Essential amino acid supplementation in patients with severe COPD: a step towards home rehabilitation


According to Italian researchers, at least 10% of the population has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but only a limited number have access to rehabilitation, which has been shown to improve physical and mental function, control symptoms, recover lung function, and enhance quality of life. 

Other treatments, such as nutritional intervention with essential amino acids, may promote improved outcomes when access to rehabilitation is not feasible. Essential amino acids have been proven to boost muscle protein synthesis, increase lean muscle mass, and improve mental and physical function.

Trial Length

3 months

Number of Subjects



All genders

Age Range


The Goal

The aim of the study was to determine the effect of essential amino acids on improved physical performance and health status in patients with COPD.

The Results

Findings suggest that patients with COPD, including those with sarcopenia, can achieve similar rehabilitation outcomes at home when supplementing with essential amino acids. 

After 12 weeks of 4 grams of essential amino acids a day, patients increased physical activity levels and reported improvements in quality of life compared to patients in the placebo group. COPD patients taking essential amino acids also experienced reductions in fat mass, increased muscle strength, saturation of oxygen, serum albumin, and cognitive function.

Effects of essential amino acid supplementation in patients with severe COPD



Oral supplementation with essential amino acids improved physical performance, nutritional and cognitive status, muscle strength, and quality of life in severe COPD patients who did not have access to a rehabilitation program.  

The Why?

In an effort to improve health outcomes for COPD patients who cannot enter a rehabilitation program, Italian researchers determined that essential amino acids can help achieve similar improvements in function and health. While oral supplementation with essential amino acids is not intended to replace a rehabilitation program, taking amino acids does offer an alternative solution in cases where rehabilitation is not possible, and also offers additional benefit to traditional COPD rehabilitation measures.


Dal Negro RW, Testa A, Aquilani R, Tognella S, Pasini E, Barbieri A, Boschi F. Essential amino acid supplementation in patients with severe COPD: a step towards home rehabilitation. Monaldi Arch Chest Dis. 2012 Jun;77(2):67-75. PMID:23193843