Background & aims: High protein delivery during early critical illness is associated with lower mortality, while energy overfeeding is associated with higher mortality. Protein-to-energy ratios of traditional enteral formulae are sometimes too low to reach protein targets without energy overfeeding. This prospective feasibility study aimed to evaluate the ability of a new enteral formula with a high protein-to-energy ratio to achieve the desired protein target while avoiding energy overfeeding.
Methods: Mechanically ventilated non-septic patients received the high protein-to-energy ratio nutrition during the first 4 days of ICU stay (n = 20). Nutritional prescription was 90% of measured energy expenditure. Primary endpoint was the percentage of patients reaching a protein target of ≥1.2 g/kg ideal body weight on day 4. Other endpoints included a comparison of nutritional intake to matched historic controls and the response of plasma amino acid concentrations. Safety endpoints were gastro-intestinal tolerance and plasma urea concentrations.
Results: Nineteen (95%) patients reached the protein intake target of ≥1.2 g/kg ideal body weight on day 4, compared to 65% in historic controls (p = 0.024). Mean plasma concentrations of all essential amino acids increased significantly from baseline to day 4. Predefined gastro-intestinal tolerance was good, but unexplained foul smelling diarrhoea occurred in two patients. In one patient plasma urea increased unrelated to acute kidney injury.
Conclusions: In selected non-septic patients tolerating enteral nutrition, recommended protein targets can be achieved without energy overfeeding using a new high protein-to-energy ratio enteral nutrition.