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World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Nov 14;18(42):6141-7. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i42.6141.

Liver-protecting effects of omega-3 fish oil lipid emulsion in liver transplantation.

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  • 1Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Affiliated Drum Tower Hospital, Medical School of Nanjing University, Nanjing 210008, Jiangsu Province, China.



To investigate the liver-protecting effect of parenteral nutrition (PN) support with omega-3 fatty acids in a randomized controlled clinical trial.


Sixty-six patients with the diagnosis of end-stage liver disease or hepatic cellular carcinoma were admitted to the Affiliated Drum Tower Hospital, Nanjing University, China for orthotopic liver transplantation. The patients were randomly divided into two groups: PN group (n = 33) and polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) group (n = 33). All patients received isocaloric and isonitrogenous PN for seven days after surgery, and in PUFA group omega-3 fish oil lipid emulsion replaced part of the standard lipid emulsion. Liver function was tested on days 2 and 9 after surgery. Pathological examination was performed after reperfusion of the donor liver and on day 9. Clinical outcome was assessed based on the post-transplant investigations, including: (1) post-transplant mechanical ventilation; (2) total hospital stay; (3) infectious morbidities; (4) acute and chronic rejection; and (5) mortality (intensive care unit mortality, hospital mortality, 28-d mortality, and survival at a one-year post-transplant surveillance period).


On days 2 and 9 after operation, a significant decrease of alanine aminotransferase (299.16 U/L ± 189.17 U/L vs 246.16 U/L ± 175.21 U/L, P = 0.024) and prothrombin time (5.64 s ± 2.06 s vs 2.54 s ± 1.15 s, P = 0.035) was seen in PUFA group compared with PN group. The pathological results showed that omega-3 fatty acid supplement improved the injury of hepatic cells. Compared with PN group, there was a significant decrease of post-transplant hospital stay in PUFA group (18.7 d ± 4.0 d vs 20.6 d ± 4.6 d, P = 0.041). Complications of infection occurred in 6 cases of PN group (2 cases of pneumonia, 3 cases of intra-abdominal abscess and 1 case of urinary tract infection), and in 3 cases of PUFA group (2 cases of pneumonia and 1 case of intra-abdominal abscess). No acute or chronic rejection and hospital mortality were found in both groups. The one-year mortality in PN group was 9.1% (3/33), one died of pulmonary infection, one died of severe intra-hepatic cholangitis and hepatic dysfunction and the other died of hepatic cell carcinoma recurrence. Only one patient in PUFA group (1/33, 3.1%) died of biliary complication and hepatic dysfunction during follow-up.


Post-transplant parenteral nutritional support combined with omega-3 fatty acids can significantly improve the liver injury, reduce the infectious morbidities, and shorten the post-transplant hospital stay.


Fish oil lipid; Liver; Metabolism; Parenteral nutrition; Transplantation

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