Objective

Protein malnutrition is both a cause and consequence of inflammation and related comorbidities for maintenance hemodialysis (MHD) patients. This study sought to determine if oral supplementation with soy or whey protein during dialysis treatment reduces inflammation and improves physical function and body composition in MHD patients.

Design

The design used in the study was randomized controlled trial, and the setting used was hemodialysis clinics in Champaign and Chicago, Illinois.

Subjects

Patients who received treatment ≥3 days/week, were ages ≥30 years did not have congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and were receiving dialysis treatment for ≥3 months were eligible for inclusion.

Intervention

Patients were randomized to oral supplementation with a whey protein, soy protein, or placebo beverage. Patients (WHEY, n = 11; SOY, n = 12; CON, n = 15) consumed their assigned beverage before every dialysis session for 6 months.

Main Outcome Measures

Body composition was measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, physical function by gait speed and shuttle walk test, and markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein and interleukin 6) using commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits before and after the 6-month intervention. Dietary intake was assessed by 24-hour dietary recalls.

Results

Six months of whey or soy supplementation significantly reduced predialysis interleukin 6 levels (P < .05 for both), whereas there was a trend for a reduction in C-reactive protein when both protein groups were combined (P = .062). Gait speed and shuttle walk test performance also significantly improved in the protein groups (P < .05 for both). No changes in body composition were observed. However, alkaline phosphatase, a marker of bone turnover, was significantly reduced in the protein groups.

Conclusions

Intradialytic protein supplementation during a 6-month intervention reduced inflammation and improved physical function and represents an affordable intervention to improve the health of MHD patients.