Effects of zinc deficiency/zinc supplementation on ammonia metabolism in patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis.

Y. Yoshida, T. Higashi, K. Nouso, H. Nakatsukasa, S. I. Nakamura, A. Watanabe, T. Tsuji

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63 Citations (Scopus)


Hepatic encephalopathy is one of the major complications in decompensated liver cirrhosis. The current study was conducted to clarify the mechanisms of zinc deficiency in liver cirrhosis and its involvement in hepatic encephalopathy via ammonia metabolism. Ten patients each with compensated or decompensated liver cirrhosis and 11 healthy volunteers were enrolled in the study. Serum zinc levels and its daily urinary excretion were measured, an oral zinc-tolerance test was performed to examine zinc malabsorption, and the effects of diuretics on zinc excretion and of zinc supplementation on ammonia metabolism in the skeletal muscle were studied. The mean serum zinc levels in patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis were found to be significantly lower than the levels in controls and patients with compensated liver cirrhosis. The serum zinc levels were inversely correlated with blood ammonia in the fasting state. In the oral zinc-tolerance test, the percent increase in serum zinc levels 120 and 180 min after ingestion was less in cirrhotic patients than in controls. A diuretic administration resulted in a significant reduction in serum zinc levels. An increased uptake of ammonia by and an increased release of glutamine from leg skeletal muscle after oral supplementation of zinc sulfate were evident. Taken together, zinc deficiency in decompensated cirrhotic patients appears to be due to low absorption and to high urinary excretion, for which excessive diuretic administration is, in part, responsible, and zinc supplementation might play an important role in the prevention of hepatic encephalopathy by activating glutamine synthetase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-355
Number of pages7
JournalActa medica Okayama
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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