Background: The involvement of lipolytic enzymes and liberated fatty acids in ethiology of acute pancreatitis (AP) has been implicated.
Aim: To analyze the level of FFA in the patients with AP in relation to severity of the disease.
Material and methods: The study included 36 patients with acute edematous AP (group I), 29 patients with necrotizing AP: 16 without (group IIA) and 13 with complications (group IIB), and 12 control subjects. Serum levels of total FFA (by enzymatic method) and the individual fatty acids of the FFA pool (by gas-liquid chromatography) were measured during the first 4 days after admission.
Results: A significant increase in the mean total serum FFA was noted for all the groups with the highest values on admission (p < 0.02-0.01). The per cent contribution was significantly higher as compared to control group for oleic acid (group I, p < 0.02, group IIA, p < 0.05, group IIB, p < 0.005), linoleic acid (group IIB, p < 0.02) and arachidonic acid (group IIA, p < 0.05, group IIB, p < 0.02). Significantly lower percentage was noted for stearic acid (all three groups: p < 0.01, p < 0.005, p < 0.01, respectively) and for palmitic acid (only group IIB: p < 0.005). The ratio of saturated to polyunsaturated fatty acids was significantly lower than in control group on each day of study for group IIB only (p < 0.005-p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Polyunsaturated fatty acids, mainly linoleic and arachidonic, may be involved in the development of complications in acute pancreatitis.