Parenteral nutrition associated liver disease

Semin Neonatol. 2003 Oct;8(5):375-81. doi: 10.1016/S1084-2756(03)00094-0.


Liver disease is relatively common during parenteral nutrition (PN). Cholestasis predominates in infants, and ranges in severity from mild increases in plasma conjugated bilirubin to progressive liver failure that results in death of the patient. Severity of liver disease depends primarily on the magnitude of the underlying intestinal problem that indicated PN. Transient ileus resulting from a non-intestinal disorder usually results in trivial, self-limited liver injury. Removal of a large segment of the intestinal tract because of necrotizing enterocolitis or a congenital malformation predicts a more prolonged course with a guarded prognosis, particularly when initially complicated by sepsis. Pathogenesis of PN-associated liver disease is not completely understood. There is no proven treatment short of ending PN through adaptation of remnant intestine or intestinal transplantation, with or without a concurrent liver graft. Effective interventions that are less radical than transplantation are needed. Research that includes prospective trials of novel therapies in PN-associated liver disease is the key to improving outcome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Liver Diseases / etiology*
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Parenteral Nutrition / adverse effects*
  • Severity of Illness Index