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Metabolism. 1992 Sep;41(9):954-60.

Malnutrition-related polyunsaturated fatty acid changes in plasma lipid fractions of cirrhotic patients.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Granada, Spain.


Cirrhotic patients have both impaired liver function and nutritional derangement. In fact, the prevalence of protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) is very high in these patients. The aim of the present study was to elucidate whether the nutritional status in cirrhosis could be an additional factor that would affect levels of plasma lipids. Plasma lipid phosphorus, cholesterol, and triglycerides (TG), and fatty acid profiles in plasma and plasma fractions were determined in 50 healthy subjects and 92 patients with liver cirrhosis. The cirrhotic patients were prospectively included in three groups according to the result of nutritional assessment: group 1 (n = 38), acceptable nutritional status (including well-nourished and mildly malnourished patients); group 2 (n = 29), moderate PEM; and group 3 (n = 25), severe PEM. The main findings of this study were that the decrease in plasma cholesterol and linoleic, dihomo-gamma-linolenic, and arachidonic acid levels of cirrhotic patients was related to the degree of PEM. Cholesteryl esters (CE) appeared to be the most sensitive indicator of lipid changes in cirrhosis. We consider that the role of malnutrition in the changes observed for polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) profiles in plasma lipids of cirrhotic patients may be of major importance, since severe malnourished subjects exhibited the lowest levels of those compounds. Dietary supplementation of both essential fatty acids (EFA) and long-chain PUFA in adequate amounts to the cirrhotic patient might be of importance in the management of the disease.

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