Body cell mass (BCM) is the metabolically active cell mass involved in O₂ consumption, CO₂ production and energy expenditure. BCM measurement has been suggested as a tool for the evaluation of nutritional status. Since BCM is closely related to energy expenditure, it could also represent a good reference value for the calculation of nutrient needs. In a recent issue of Critical Care, Ismael and colleagues used bioelectrical impedance analysis parameters and anthropometric variables to evaluate BCM in patients with acute kidney injury, before and after a hemodialysis session. The results of this study suggest that BCM is relatively insensitive to major body fluid shifts, a well known factor interfering with nutritional evaluation/monitoring and energy need calculations in the ICU. Thus, BCM seems to be a more 'stable' nutritional variable, as it is apparently less influenced by non-nutritional factors. The results of this paper emphasize the need to identify biologically sound parameters for nutritional status evaluation and energy need calculation in critically ill patients; in this regard, BCM could fulfill these expectations.
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