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Hepatology. 1998 Nov;28(5):1199-205.

Lipoprotein-X in patients with cirrhosis: its relationship to cholestasis and hypercholesterolemia.

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  • 1Abteilung Gastroenterologie und Hepatologie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Germany.


Lipoprotein-X (Lp-X) is an abnormal low-density lipoprotein frequently found in liver disease. It is regarded as the most sensitive and specific biochemical parameter for the diagnosis of intra- and extrahepatic cholestasis. Moreover, Lp-X is supposed to contribute to the development of hypercholesterolemia in cholestatic liver disease, because it fails to inhibit de novo cholesterol synthesis. This investigation will focus on the relationship between the presence of Lp-X and serum lipid concentrations in cirrhosis. The significance of Lp-X in the diagnosis of cholestasis, compared with alkaline phosphatase (AP), gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), and bilirubin levels, will be assessed as well. The present cross-sectional study includes 212 patients with histopathologically proven cirrhosis. The detection of Lp-X and the quantification of -, beta-, and pre-beta-cholesterol was based on agar gel electrophoresis and polyanion precipitation. For the characterization of liver function, the concentrations of albumin and bilirubin, the activities of liver enzymes, and coagulation times were assessed. In a subgroup of 40 individuals, liver biopsies were re-evaluated to confirm or exclude intrahepatic cholestasis. As a result, there was no association between the appearance of Lp-X and total cholesterol concentrations. While all patients with Lp-X showed intrahepatic cholestasis (predictive value of the positive test = 1), only 16 of 28 patients with cholestasis formed Lp-X (sensitivity = 0.57). The activities of AP and of GGT, as well as the concentrations of bilirubin, were strongly elevated in most patients, with and without cholestasis. The predictive values of AP, GGT, and bilirubin were 0.77, 0.69, and 0.74 for the positive test and 0.5, 0, and 0.6 for the negative test, respectively. We conclude that Lp-X is not related to hypercholesterolemia in cirrhosis. The positive, but not the negative, Lp-X test has high predictive value for the diagnosis of cholestasis in cirrhosis. The biochemical parameters traditionally used for the assessment of extrahepatic cholestasis, AP, GGT, and bilirubin, do not support the diagnosis of intrahepatic cholestasis caused by cirrhosis.

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