Background: Although perioperative immune-enhancing enteral formula (IEEF) is effective to decrease the rate of infectious complications, it is not clear whether perioperative use of IEEF decreases the incidence of postoperative complications and improves clinical outcome in patients who have undergone esophagectomy. A prospective randomized clinical trial was performed to examine the effects of perioperative IEEF on nutritional and immunological status in patients with esophageal carcinoma who have been treated with esophagectomy. Methods: A total of 30 patients were randomly assigned to two groups, each receiving 3 days of preoperative and postoperative enteral nutrition through jejunostomy started within 24 h after operation, either with immune-enhancing enteral formula (group IEEF, n = 16) or with regular polymeric enteral formula (group C, n = 14). Preoperative and postoperative nutritional and immunological parameters and clinical outcome were examined. Results: A significant increase in the serum concentration of ornithine was noted in group IEEF and it peaked at 5 days after surgery. The equivalent values were significantly lower in group C. There was no difference in serum dochosahexaic acid between the two groups. The n-3/n-6 fatty acid ratio in group IEEF was significantly higher than in group C at 7 days after surgery. Peripheral percent lymphocyte fraction and total lymphocyte count in group IEEF were both significantly higher than those in group C. While T cell fraction of peripheral lymphocytes in group IEEF at 3 days after surgery, B cell fraction in group IEEF at 5 and 7 days after surgery was significantly higher than those in group C, suggesting that perioperative IEEF caused a shift towards B cell proliferation. Conclusions: Perioperative use of IEEF caused a significant increase in the total lymphocyte count at 3 and 5 days after operation and caused a shift toward B cell proliferation, which may possibly be beneficial to decrease the incidence of postoperative infectious complications.
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