Total and individual free fatty acid concentrations in liver cirrhosis

Metabolism. 1984 Jul;33(7):646-51. doi: 10.1016/0026-0495(84)90064-7.


The finding of high plasma free fatty acid (FFA) levels in cirrhotic patients has been attributed either to decreased hepatic clearance or to enhanced fat mobilization. To better clarify these hypotheses, total and individual FFA and glycerol levels were determined in 21 cirrhotic patients with different degrees of hepatocellular damage (evaluated by liver function tests), portal hypertension (evaluated by endoscopy and clinical signs), and nutritional status (evaluated by anthropometric and biohumoral parameters) and in 10 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. Glucose tolerance and insulin and glucagon levels were determined in all individuals. Well-nourished and malnourished patients were identified within the cirrhotic group. Plasma FFA and glycerol concentrations were well correlated (r = 0.47, P less than 0.05), levels being significantly higher in cirrhotic individuals than in controls (746.6 +/- 46.29 SE v 359.22 +/- 40.82 mumol/L, P less than 0.001 for plasma FFA; 150.1 +/- 3.12 v 82.5 +/- 9.2 mumol/L, P less than 0.01 for glycerol). Plasma FFA and glycerol showed no correlation with the liver function test results or portal hypertension parameters. Interestingly, plasma levels of FFA and glycerol were influenced by the nutritional status, significantly higher FFA levels being observed in the well-nourished than in the malnourished patients (842.5 +/- 47.5 v 563.4 +/- 78 mumol/L, P less than 0.005). Furthermore, a positive correlation was found between plasma glycerol level and percentage of triceps skinfold (r = 0.45, P less than 0.05). No correlation was found between plasma levels of FFA or glycerol and glucose tolerance, insulin and glucagon.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood*
  • Female
  • Glycerol / blood
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Portal / blood
  • Hypertension, Portal / etiology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Disorders / blood
  • Nutrition Disorders / etiology


  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Glycerol