Impaired intestinal function is associated with lower muscle and cognitive health and well-being in patients with congestive heart failure. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Small- and large-intestinal perturbations have been described as prevalent extracardiac systemic manifestations in congestive heart failure (CHF), but alterations in protein digestion and absorption and plasma short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) concentrations and the potential link with other systemic effects (muscle and cognitive health) have not been investigated in CHF. METHODS: We analyzed protein digestion and absorption with dual stable tracer method in 14 clinically stable, noncachectic CHF outpatients (mean left ventricular ejection fraction: 35.5% [95% CI, 30.9%-40.1%]) and 15 controls. Small-intestinal non-carrier-mediated permeability and active carrier-mediated glucose transport were quantified by sugar permeability test. Plasma SCFA (acetate, propionate, butyrate, isovalerate, valerate) concentrations were measured as intestinal microbial metabolites. Muscle function was assessed by isokinetic dynamometry, cognition by a battery of tests, and well-being by questionnaire. RESULTS: Protein digestion and absorption were impaired by 29.2% (P = .001) and active glucose transport by 38.4% (P = .010) in CHF. Non-carrier-mediated permeability was not altered. Whereas plasma propionate, butyrate, and isovalerate concentrations were lower in CHF (P < .05), acetate and valerate concentrations did not differ. Overall, intestinal dysfunction was associated with impaired leg muscle quality, emotional distress, and cognitive dysfunction (P < .05). CONCLUSIONS: We identified impaired protein digestion and absorption and altered SCFA concentrations as additional intestinal dysfunctions in CHF that are linked to reduced muscle and cognitive health and well-being. More research is needed to implement strategies to improve intestinal function in CHF and to investigate the mechanisms underlying its link with other systemic manifestations.

published proceedings

  • JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Kirschner, S. K., Deutz, N., Rijnaarts, I., Smit, T. J., Larsen, D. J., & Engelen, M.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Kirschner, Sarah K||Deutz, Nicolaas EP||Rijnaarts, Iris||Smit, Tiffany J||Larsen, Daniel J||Engelen, MariĆ«lle PKJ

publication date

  • March 2022