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West Indian Med J. 1994 Mar;43(1):15-7.

Peroxisomes and the hepatic pathology of childhood malnutrition.

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Department of Pathology and Tropical Metabolism Research Unit, U.W.I., Jamaica.


Liver specimens obtained immediately after death from eight severely malnourished children were examined by electron microscopy, and compared with seven liver biopsy specimens from children who had recovered from malnutrition. The liver cells from the fatal cases showed mitochondrial swelling, with coarse densities in the matrix, cholestasis, depletion of the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus, diminished glycogen stores, prominent lipid deposits and focal cytoplasmic degradation. The nucleoli were enlarged. There was marked reduction in peroxisomes. In contrast, the biopsies from recovering children showed good cellular organisation, and a normal frequency of peroxisomes. Multiple factors, including sepsis, may lead to depletion of peroxisomes. Loss of peroxisomes may interrupt beta-oxidation of long-chain fatty acids and accentuate the accumulation of lipid. Moreover, a reduction in the concentration of catalase may remove one avenue for the detoxification of free radicals. As the concentration of other anti-oxidants, notably glutathione, is also reduced, free radical damage may occur, leading to lipid peroxidation of membranes, mitochondrial damage, pump failure and influx of water and electrolytes into the cell.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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