Randomized pilot study: Effects of an exercise programme and leucine supplementation in patients with cirrhosis

Eva Román, Ma Teresa Torrades, Ma Josep Nadal, Guillem Cárdenas, Juan Camilo Nieto, Sílvia Vidal, Helena Bascuñana, Cándido Juárez, Carlos Guarner, Juan Córdoba, Germán Soriano

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127 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Physical exercise could improve functional limitations, muscle mass, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients with cirrhosis. Aim: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of an exercise programme and leucine supplementation to increase exercise capacity, muscle mass, and HRQoL in patients with cirrhosis. Patients and Methods: Seventeen outpatients with cirrhosis were randomized to an exercise group (n = 8) or a control group (n = 9) in a pilot study. The programme of moderate exercise was performed for 12 weeks under supervision of a physiotherapist. All patients received oral leucine (10 g/day) during the study. At baseline and at the end of the study, we determined exercise capacity (6-min walk and 2-min step tests), anthropometric measurements, and HRQoL by Short Form-36 (SF-36) questionnaire. We also analyzed safety regarding complications of cirrhosis, liver and renal function, inflammatory response and oxidative stress. Results: In the exercise group, exercise capacity improved, as shown by the increase in the 6-min walk test from 365 (160-420) to 445 m (250-500) (p = 0.01), and in the 2-min step test (p = 0.02). Lower thigh circumference also increased, from 41 (34-53) to 46 cm (36-56) (p = 0.02), and the domains of SF-36 general health (p = 0.03), vitality (p = 0.01) and social function (p = 0.04) improved significantly. In the control group, no statistically significant changes were observed in any of the parameters. We did not observe complications of cirrhosis in either group during the study. Conclusions: A programme of moderate physical exercise together with leucine supplements in patients with cirrhosis is safe and improves exercise capacity, leg muscle mass and HRQoL. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1966-1975
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Branched-chain amino acids
  • Cirrhosis
  • Effort tolerance
  • Muscle mass


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