Background: Parenteral plant sterols (PSs) are considered hepatotoxic; however, liver PSs and their associations with liver injury in patients with intestinal failure (IF) have not been reported.
Materials and methods: We analyzed liver and serum PS (avenasterol, campesterol, sitosterol, and stigmasterol) concentrations and ratios to cholesterol and their associations with biochemical and histologic liver damage in children with IF during (n = 7) parenteral nutrition (PN) and after weaning off it (n = 9), including vegetable oil-based lipid emulsions.
Results: Liver avenasterol, sitosterol, and total PS concentrations and cholesterol ratios were 2.4-fold to 5.6-fold higher in PN-dependent patients ( P < .05). Parenteral PS delivery reflected liver avenasterol and sitosterol ratios to cholesterol ( r = 0.83-0.89, P = .02-.04), while serum and liver total PS levels were positively interrelated ( r = 0.98, P < .01). Any liver histopathology was equally common while portal inflammation more frequent (57 vs 0%, P = .02) in PN-dependent patients. All liver PS fractions correlated positively with histologic portal inflammation ( r = 0.53-0.66, P < .05), and their total concentration was significantly ( P = .01) higher among patients with versus without portal inflammation. In PN-dependent patients, liver fibrosis and any histopathology correlated with liver campesterol and stigmasterol levels ( r = 0.79-0.87, P ≤ .03).
Conclusion: Among children with IF, parenteral PSs accumulate in the liver, reflect their increased serum levels, and relate with biochemical liver injury, portal inflammation, and liver fibrosis, thus supporting their role in promoting liver damage.
Keywords: intestinal failure-associated liver disease; lipid emulsions; parenteral nutrition; phytosterols; short bowel syndrome.