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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2006  |  Volume : 124  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 129-148

The requirements of protein & amino acid during acute & chronic infections


Institute of Population Health & Clinical Research, St John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore, India

Correspondence Address:
Anura V Kurpad
Institute of Population Health & Clinical Research, St John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore, India

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


PMID: 17015927

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Nutrition and infection interact with each other in a synergistic vicious cycle, leading to an adverse nutritional status and increased susceptibility to infection. Infectious episodes result in hypermetabolism and a negative nitrogen balance which is modulated by hormones, cytokines and other pro-inflammatory mediators, and is compounded by a reduced food intake. The extent of the negative nitrogen balance varies with the type of infection and its duration; however, it is reasonable to suggest that the loss of body protein could be minimized by the provision of dietary nitrogen, although anorexia will limit this. Further, distinctions need to be made about the provision of nutrients or protein during the catabolic and anabolic or recovery phase of the infection, since the capacity of the body to retain protein is enhanced in the anabolic recovery phase. Meeting the increased requirement for protein (and other nutrients) in infection does not imply a complete therapeutic strategy. Infections need to be treated appropriately, with nutrition as an adjunct to the treatment. Prior undernutrition could also impair the body's response to infection, although the weight of the evidence would suggest that this happens more particularly in oedematous undernutrition. In general, the amount of extra protein that would appear to be needed is of the order of 20-25 per cent of the recommended intake, for most infections. In acute infections, this is particularly relevant during the convalescence period. Community trials have suggested that lysine supplementation to the level required for normal daily nutriture, in predominantly wheat eating or potentially lysine deficient communities, improves immune function among other functional nutritional parameters; however, there is as yet insufficient evidence to suggest a specific requirement for amino acids in infections over and above the normal daily requirement as based on recent evidence. Some clinical studies that have showed benefits with specific amino acids through selected clinical outcomes, however, these do not provide enough evidence for a firm recommendation.


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