High Protein Intake Does Not Prevent Low Plasma Levels of Conditionally Essential Amino Acids in Very Preterm Infants Receiving Parenteral Nutrition

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Abstract

Background: We have shown that increasing protein intake using a standardized, concentrated, added macronutrients parenteral (SCAMP) nutrition regimen improves head growth in very preterm infants (VPIs) compared with a control parenteral nutrition (PN) regimen. VPIs are at risk of conditionally essential amino acid (CEAA) deficiencies because of current neonatal PN amino acid (AA) formulations. We hypothesized that the SCAMP regimen would prevent low plasma levels of CEAAs. Aim: To compare the plasma AA profiles at approximately day 9 of life in VPIs receiving SCAMP vs a control PN regimen. Methods: VPIs (<29 weeks’ gestation) were randomized to receive SCAMP (30% more PN AA) or a control regimen. Data were collected to measure parenteral and enteral protein, energy, and individual AA intake and the first plasma AA profile. Plasma profiles of the 20 individual protogenic AA levels were measured using ion exchange chromatography. Results: Plasma AA profiles were obtained at median (interquartile range [IQR]) age of 9 (8–10) days in both SCAMP (n = 59) and control (n = 67) groups after randomizing 150 VPIs. Median (IQR) plasma levels of individual essential AAs were higher than the reference population mean (RPM) in both groups, especially for threonine. SCAMP infants had higher plasma levels of essential AAs than did the controls. Median (IQR) plasma levels of glutamine, arginine, and cysteine (CEAAs) were lower than the RPM in both groups. Conclusion: Plasma AA levels in PN-dependent VPIs indicate there is an imbalance in essential and CEAA provision in neonatal PN AA formulations that is not improved by increasing protein intake.

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