BACKGROUND - Protein energy wasting (PEW) is common in patients undergoing maintenance hemodialysis (MHD) and closely associated with poor outcomes. Insulin resistance and associated alterations in amino acid metabolism are potential pathways leading to PEW. We hypothesized that the measurement of leucine disposal during a hyperinsulinemic- euglycemic-euaminoacidemic clamp (HEAC) procedure would accurately measure the sensitivity to insulin for its actions on concomitant carbohydrate and protein metabolism in MHD patients.
METHODS - We examined 35 MHD patients and 17 control subjects with normal kidney function by hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp (HEGC) followed by HEAC clamp procedure to obtain leucine disposal rate (LDR) along with isotope tracer methodology to assess whole body protein turnover.
RESULTS - The glucose disposal rate (GDR) by HEGC was 5.1 ± 2.1 mg/kg/min for the MHD patients compared to 6.3 ± 3.9 mg/kg/min for the controls ( = 0.38). The LDR during HEAC was 0.09 ± 0.03 mg/kg/min for the MHD patients compared to 0.11 ± 0.05 mg/kg/min for the controls ( = 0.009). The LDR level was correlated with whole body protein synthesis ( = 0.25; = 0.08), with whole body protein breakdown ( = -0.38 = 0.01) and net protein balance ( = 0.85; < 0.001) in the overall study population. Correlations remained significant in subgroup analysis. The GDR derived by HEGC and LDR correlated well in the controls ( = 0.79, < 0.001), but less so in the MHD patients ( = 0.58, < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS - Leucine disposal rate reliably measures amino acid utilization in MHD patients and controls in response to high dose insulin.