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Oregon researchers say supplement cuts muscle loss in knee replacements

ontained rapidly absorbed raw amino acids -- a mix of histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine and valine. Essential amino acids, which are not naturally produced by the body and must come from food sources, help the body in many ways, including tissue repair.

The placebo was alanine, a non-essential amino acid. Both supplements were mixed into pudding, cereal or carbonated beverage based on patient choice. Supplements were consumed an hour after physical therapy to take advantage of optimum protein synthesis after resistance exercises.

Researchers hope to expand their work to see how a longer duration of supplementation affects patients at six months and a year after surgery. Another potential benefit, Jewett said, is that combined with technological improvements in the components used in knee-joint replacement surgeries, such supplementation with essential amino acids may allow for the possibility of patients who elect to undergo surgery earlier in life to return to work and daily activities faster, which are important outcomes for patients.

"If this supplementation can accelerate recovery and reduce muscle loss, then that represents an advancement in TKA that has not received as much attention as component development and survivorship," Jewett said. "In other words, essential amino acids supplementation represents a major advancement on the rehabilitation front. I think about EAA supplementation as a potentially low-cost opportunity to jump-start the rehab process. We know that patients who are more engaged participants in their post-operative therapy often have better outcomes. Our ability to mitigate muscle atrophy may lead to earlier achievement of functional mobility, which gets our patients out of the hospital, back in their homes, to work and enjoying recreational activities faster, and that's my goal as their surgeon."

Dreyer's group is pursuing a grant for a five-year, single-site cli

Contact: Jim Barlow
University of Oregon

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