Is it necessary for patients with chronic kidney disease to limit protein intake?

Protein intake is suspected to relate to recovery of skeletal muscle mass after kidney transplantation

Conventional wisdom holds that low protein intake is essential for kidney disease patients. However, scientists from Osaka Metropolitan University in Japan have demonstrated that it might not always be the case with their recent study on the relationship between protein intake and skeletal muscle mass in kidney transplant recipients.

Kidney transplant recipients increase skeletal muscle mass after kidney transplantation. Since excessive protein intake worsens kidney function, it is commonly believed that patients with chronic kidney disease, including kidney transplant recipients, should limit protein intake to protect their kidneys. On the other hand, it has been suggested that severe protein restriction may worsen sarcopenia (an age related, involuntary loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength) and adversely affect prognosis.

Responding to this gap, the researchers investigated the relationship between changes in skeletal muscle mass, measured by bioelectrical impedance analysis, and protein intake, which was estimated from the urine collected from 64 kidney transplant recipients 12 months after kidney transplantation. The results showed that changes in skeletal muscle mass during this period were positively correlated with protein intake, and that insufficient protein intake resulted in decreased muscle mass.

“To improve the life expectancy of kidney transplant recipients, further research is needed to clarify the optimal protein intake to prevent either deterioration in kidney function or sarcopenia. We hope that nutritional guidance, including protein intake, will lead to improved life expectancy and prognosis”, said the researchers.

Image credit- shutterstock

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