Fatigue is one of the most debilitating symptoms reported by maintenance hemodialysis (MHD) patients. Hemodialysis causes marked depletion in plasma essential amino acids. We studied the cross-sectional relationship of pre- and post-hemodialysis branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) concentrations with fatigue in MHD patients. Methods: MHD patients self-reported fatigue during a dialysis session using the Brief Fatigue Inventory. Pre- and post-dialysis plasma levels of BCAAs (valine, leucine, and isoleucine) were measured using HPLC-mass spectrometry. Results: The mean age of study participants (n = 114) was 54.8 ± 12.8 years. Plasma levels of BCAAs decreased significantly post-dialysis compared to pre-dialysis (303.8 ± 9.4 vs. 392.1 ± 9.4 μM/L, p < 0.0001). Fatigue score increased as a function of age (p = 0.015). There was no association between pre-dialysis plasma levels of BCAAs and fatigue. A significant negative correlation was found between post-dialysis plasma levels of BCAAs and fatigue (p < 0.05). Conclusions: These preliminary findings suggest that disruption in BCAAs homeostasis may play a role in precipitating fatigue.
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