Increased protein-energy intake promotes anabolism in critically ill infants with viral bronchiolitis: A double-blind randomised controlled trial
Objective: The preservation of nutritional status and growth is an important aim in critically ill infants, but difficult to achieve due to the metabolic stress response and inadequate nutritional intake, leading to negative protein balance. This study investigated whether increasing protein and energy intakes can promote anabolism. The primary outcome was whole body protein balance, and the secondary outcome was first pass splanchnic phenylalanine extraction (SPEPhe). Design: This was a double-blind randomised controlled trial. Infants (n=18) admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit with respiratory failure due to viral bronchiolitis were randomised to continuous enteral feeding with protein and energy enriched formula (PE-formula) (n=8; 3.1±0.3 g protein/kg/24 h, 119±25 kcal/kg/24 h) or standard formula (S-formula) (n=10; 1.7±0.2 g protein/kg/24 h, 84±15 kcal/kg/24 h; equivalent to recommended intakes for healthy infants <6 months). A combined intravenous-enteral phenylalanine stable isotope protocol was used on day 5 after admission to determine whole body protein metabolism and SPEPhe. Results: Protein balance was significantly higher with PE-formula than with S-formula (PE-formula: 0.73±0.5 vs S-formula: 0.02±0.6 g/kg/24 h) resulting from significantly increased protein synthesis (PE-formula: 9.6±4.4, S-formula: 5.2±2.3 g/kg/24 h), despite significantly increased protein breakdown (PE-formula: 8.9±4.3, S-formula: 5.2±2.6 g/kg/24 h). SPEPhewas not statistically different between the two groups (PE-formula: 39.8±18.3%, S-formula: 52.4±13.6%). Conclusions: Increasing protein and energy intakes promotes protein anabolism in critically ill infants in the first days after admission. Since this is an important target of nutritional support, increased protein and energy intakes should be preferred above standard intakes in these infants. Dutch Trial Register number: NTR 515.