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Surgery. 1986 Oct;100(4):697-704.

Hepatic steatosis in total parenteral nutrition: failure of fatty infiltration to correlate with abnormal serum hepatic enzyme levels.


Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) is associated with hepatic biochemical and morphologic changes. Suggested causes include excessive glucose calories, fatty acid deficiency, and enterically derived hepatotoxins escaping atrophied bowel. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were cannulated or sham operated with internal jugular ligation. The cannulated groups received TPN with a 25% dextrose base, or TPN 12.5% dextrose and given nothing by mouth, or saline solution and allowed to eat ad lib. Sham animals ate ad lib. After 6 days the animals were killed and portal blood was assayed for endotoxin and cultured. Cultures were also taken of the liver. Serum hepatic enzyme concentration and hepatic fat were determined. All cultures and endotoxin assays were negative. Microscopy revealed nonlipid vacuolization in both TPN groups, a finding reproduced by direct portal infusion of endotoxin. There was significant hepatic steatosis in the 25% dextrose base TPN versus all other groups (28.6% liver weight versus 6.3% liver weight; p less than 0.05). This was correlated with caloric intake (28.7 calories/100 gm/day versus 21.2 calories/100 gm/day; p less than 0.05). Liver enzymes were not significantly different among groups. We conclude that hepatic steatosis in TPN is a result of overfeeding a glucose only substrate and that fatty infiltration is independent of changes in blood hepatic enzyme concentrations. Although other morphologic changes of hepatotoxin-induced injury were seen in the TPN group, portal endotoxemia to the level of 1 ng/ml could not be documented.

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