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Whey Protein for Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis.

Thirty-eight patients (mean age, 48 years) with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis received 20 g per day of whey protein for 12 weeks. The mean plasma glutathione concentration increased significantly during the treatment period. The mean serum alanine aminotransferase level decreased from 64 U/L to 46 U/L (p < 0.02) and the mean aspartate aminotransferase level decreased from 45 U/L to 33 U/L (p < 0.05). Hepatic steatosis, as determined by computed tomography, also improved significantly.

Comment: Glutathione depletion is believed to play a role in the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a common chronic condition that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver. Whey protein is rich in glutamylcysteine, which is a precursor to glutathione. Ingestion of whey protein has been reported to increase glutathione levels in various tissues. The results of the present study indicate that ingestion of whey protein was beneficial for patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Other interventions that may be of value include weight loss if overweight, avoidance of sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, and supplementation with vitamin E.

Chitapanarux T et al. Open-labeled pilot study of cysteine-rich whey protein isolate supplementation for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis patients. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009;24:1045-1050.

by Alan R. Gaby, MD

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Author:Gaby, Alan R.
Publication:Townsend Letter
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2009
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