No consensus has been reached regarding appropriate nutritional intervention and rehabilitation during early acute exacerbation of COPD (AECOPD). Given the individual differences in symptoms of AECOPD, patients should be classified by their pathology. For example, it is known that there are differences in the inflammatory response between AECOPD with and without bacterial infection. However, there have been few reports on AECOPD from a nutritional perspective. The aim of this study was to investigate amino acid levels in patients with AECOPD.
Blood was collected from patients who were hospitalized with AECOPD and from patients with COPD that was in a stable state. We divided the patients with AECOPD into those without bacterial infection (group A) and those with bacterial infection (group B). The patients with COPD that was stable served as controls (group C). The plasma levels of 9 essential amino acids, 13 nonessential amino acids, and total amino acids were compared between the three groups.
In the early stages of AECOPD, differences in plasma levels of only three amino acids (glycine, phenylalanine, and arginine) were observed between groups C and A. Differences in total amino acids and 13 amino acids were observed between groups C and B. Group B had lower levels of total amino acids and of seven amino acids (asparagine, citrulline, glutamine, histidine, methionine, serine, and threonine) compared with the other study groups.
The findings of this study show that amino acid levels in plasma differ in patients with AECOPD depending on whether or not bacterial infection is present. Our results suggest that specific amino acids (ie, asparagine, citrulline, glutamine, histidine, serine, and threonine) have potential utility as diagnostic markers to distinguish between bacterial and nonbacterial AECOPD.