Ornithine α-ketoglutarate improves wound healing in severe burn patients: A prospective randomized double-blind trial versus isonitrogenous controls

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To compare the effectiveness on wound healing time in severe burn patients of ornithine α-ketoglutarate supplementation of enteral feeding vs. an isonitrogenous control. Previous clinical and experimental studies suggest a beneficial effect of enterally administered ornithine α-ketoglutarate supplementation on protein metabolism in burn patients, but few data deal with clinical outcome.


Prospective double-blind randomized trial.


Burn treatment center of an army hospital.


Forty-seven severe burn patients with total burned body surface areas of 25% to 95% and presence of full thickness burn who were prescribed early exclusive enteral nutrition. Either ornithine α-ketoglutarate or isonitrogenous control (soy protein mixture, Protil-1) were administered twice a day as a bolus (2 × 10 g) at 9 am and 9 pm for 3 wks. The patients were evaluated for wound healing time (primary end point), antibiotic use, tolerance, duration of enteral nutrition, and nutritional status.


Serial blood samples were collected in each patient for determination of serum transthyretin and plasma phenylalanine, and urine sampling was performed for determination of 3-methylhistidine excretion at day 4 and day 21 after burn injury.

Measurements and Main Results

Wound healing times in patients receiving ornithine α-ketoglutarate or Protil-1 were 60 ± 7 and 90 ± 12 days, respectively (p < .05) for similar grafted surfaces. Based on increased serum transthyretin concentrations, both groups showed an improvement of nutritional status at day 21 after burn. Taking a cut-off value of 110 unit burn standard for severity of injury, plasma phenylalanine concentrations, and urinary 3-methylhistidine/creatinine ratio were significantly reduced (p < .05) in the less severe burn patients (<110 unit burn standard) supplemented with ornithine α-ketoglutarate.


Ornithine α-ketoglutarate supplementation of enteral feeding significantly shortens wound healing time in severe burn patients. In addition, ornithine α-ketoglutarate administration was safe and well tolerated and decreased protein hypercatabolism in the less severe burn patients.

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