We previously reported that provision of immediate enteral nutrition
(EN) with a certain amount of omega (omega)-3 fatty acids (FAs) in patients after esophageal cancer surgery resulted in reduced platelet aggregation, coagulation activity, and cytokine production. We investigated whether EN using immuno-enhanced diet (IED) containing a large amount of omega-3 FAs as well as arginine and RNA affected the above-described responses. We also attempted to reveal whether arginine in the IED can potentially harm patients who undergo esophageal cancer surgery. Twenty-nine patients with esophageal cancer who underwent similar surgical procedures were selected.
All patients received EN starting immediately after surgery. Fourteen patients received the formula with fewer omega-3 FAs, and fifteen patients received the IED. Administration of the IED tended to inhibit postoperative decrease in platelet count. Prothrombin activity and thrombin-antithrombin III complex levels were significantly reduced in the IED group. Plasma IL-8 levels were significantly lower (P < 0.05) in patients without the IED on the fifth postoperative day (POD). The proportion of T-cells was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in the IED group on PODs 1 and 7. Nitrate/nitrite levels did not differ significantly between the two groups. Early EN with an IED may enhance the inhibitory effects on postoperative platelet aggregation and hypercoagulation, and appeared to be advantageous to T-cell proliferation. These effects are expected to be beneficial in patients at risk of developing infectious complications. This study also showed that the IED could be safely used without any adverse effects for patients early after a radical surgery for the esophageal cancer.