Objective: Sarcopenia worsens the prognosis of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim of this study was to elucidate the plasma free amino acids (PFAAs) associated with sarcopenia or myosteatosis in the course of HCC recurrence. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 187 patients were enrolled retrospectively. All patients experienced more than one hospitalization (mean times, 2.65) owing to HCC recurrence. The skeletal muscle index (SMI) and muscle attenuation (MA) were measured by a transverse computed tomography (CT) scan image at the third lumbar vertebra (L3). The changes in the concentration of 24 PFAAs, SMI, and MA in the same patient between recurrences were defined as Δ. The associations between sarcopenia, myosteatosis, and PFAAs were evaluated by a logistic regression model. The ΔSMI and ΔMA were compared between the patients who received branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) formulation and those who did not. Results: Patients with sarcopenia showed lower survival rate; the 1-, 3-, and 5-y survival rates were 85%, 42%, and 9%, respectively. Multivariate analysis revealed that the level of total BCAAs was significantly associated with sarcopenia. The correlation coefficient value between the change of leucine (ΔLeu) and ΔSMI was highest (R = 0.256; P < 0.001) among the PFAAs. In the Child-Pugh grade B or C, the decrease of SMI was significantly more suppressed in the patients with the BCAAs formulation than in those without BCAAs formulation (ΔSMI: mean change –0.98 versus –3.45 cm²/m²; P = 0.038). Conclusion: Among the PFAAs, the level of BCAAs was associated with sarcopenia in the course of HCC recurrence.
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