Dietary Supplementation With Branched Chain Amino Acids to Improve Sleep in Veterans With Traumatic Brain Injury: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Pilot and Feasibility Trial

Jonathan E. Elliott, Allison T. Keil, Sara Mithani, Jessica M. Gill, Maya E. O’Neil, Akiva S. Cohen, Miranda Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Study Objectives: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with chronic sleep disturbances and cognitive impairment. Our prior preclinical work demonstrated dietary supplementation with branched chain amino acids (BCAA: leucine, isoleucine, and valine), precursors to de novo glutamate production, restored impairments in glutamate, orexin/hypocretin neurons, sleep, and memory in rodent models of TBI. This pilot study assessed the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of dietary supplementation with BCAA on sleep and cognition in Veterans with TBI. Methods: Thirty-two Veterans with TBI were prospectively enrolled in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial comparing BCAA (30 g, b.i.d. for 21-days) with one of two placebo arms (microcrystalline cellulose or rice protein, both 30 g, b.i.d. for 21-days). Pre- and post-intervention outcomes included sleep measures (questionnaires, daily sleep/study diaries, and wrist actigraphy), neuropsychological testing, and blood-based biomarkers related to BCAA consumption. Results: Six subjects withdrew from the study (2/group), leaving 26 remaining subjects who were highly adherent to the protocol (BCAA, 93%; rice protein, 96%; microcrystalline, 95%; actigraphy 87%). BCAA were well-tolerated with few side effects and no adverse events. BCAA significantly improved subjective insomnia symptoms and objective sleep latency and wake after sleep onset on actigraphy. Conclusion: Dietary supplementation with BCAA is a mechanism-based, promising intervention that shows feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy to treat insomnia and objective sleep disruption in Veterans with TBI. A larger scale randomized clinical trial is warranted to further evaluate the efficacy, dosing, and duration of BCAA effects on sleep and other related outcome measures in individuals with TBI. Clinical Trial Registration: [http://clinicaltrials.gov/], identifier [NCT03990909].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number854874
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Volume16
DOIs
StatePublished - May 4 2022

Keywords

  • BCAA
  • blood biomarker
  • cognition
  • dietary supplementation
  • sleep
  • traumatic brain injury (TBI)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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