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Clin Chim Acta. 2005 Sep;359(1-2):141-9.

Fatty acid methyl esters are detectable in the plasma and their presence correlates with liver dysfunction.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Biochemistry, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sana'a University, Sana'a, Yemen.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Methanol is a component of certain alcoholic beverages and is also an endogenously formed product. On this basis, we have proposed that methanol may promote synthesis of fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) in the same way that ethanol promotes fatty acid ethyl ester (FAEE) synthesis. We tested the hypothesis that FAMEs appear in the blood after ethanol intake.

METHODS:

Patient plasma samples obtained from our laboratory (n=78) were grouped according to blood ethanol concentrations (intoxicated, blood ethanol >800 mg/l) and non-intoxicated. These samples were further subdivided into groups based on whether the patient had normal or abnormal liver function tests (abnormal, defined as > or =1 abnormality of plasma alanine and aspartate aminotransferase, albumin, total bilirubin, and alkaline phosphatase). A separate set of plasma samples were also divided into normal and abnormal groups based on pancreatic function tests (amylase and lipase). There were no patients with detectable ethanol in this group. Patients with abnormalities in pancreatic function tests were included upon recognition of endogenously produced FAMEs by patients with liver function test abnormalities. FAMEs were extracted from plasma and individual species of FAMEs quantified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS).

RESULTS:

Increased concentrations of FAME were found in patient samples with evidence of liver dysfunction, regardless of whether or not they were intoxicated (n=21, p=0.01). No significant differences in plasma FAME concentrations were found between patients with normal (n=15) versus abnormal pancreatic function tests (n=22, p=0.72).

CONCLUSIONS:

The presence of FAMEs in human plasma may be related to the existence of liver disease, and not to blood ethanol concentrations or pancreatic dysfunction. The metabolic pathways associated with FAME production in patients with impaired liver function remain to be identified.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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