The aim of this study is to review the current evidence for immunonutrition use in patients with burn injury. Nutrients of interest included glutamine, arginine, and omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil).

A literature review was conducted to identify studies that evaluated the use of immunonutrients in pediatric and adult patients with burn injury. Search terms included burns, immunonutrition, pharmaconutrition, glutamine, arginine, omega-3, and fish oil.

Glutamine: Nine randomized controlled trials (four represented in abstract only) investigating enteral supplementation and two trials investigating parenteral supplementation of glutamine were identified. Arginine: Five trials investigating the effect of arginine supplementation were identified (three represented in abstract only). Omega-3 fatty acids: Three studies investigating the effect of enteral fish oil supplementation were identified (one represented in abstract only). Combined immunonutrients: Six studies were identified that investigated immunonutrients as a combination of active dietary constituents (rather than as individual nutrients).

Despite the semiessential nature of arginine after burn injury, there were surprisingly little data regarding nutritional supplementation. Literature around supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids is found to be lacking in the burn injury population.

The combination of immunonutrients as a component of enteral formulae limits identification of the active nutrient and ideal dosage. Current evidence supports the use of enteral glutamine supplementation for patients with severe burn injuries. Questions remain regarding dosage, timing, and length of supplementation.