Elizabeth E. Gleghorn, Russell J. Merritt, Donaby H. Henton, Harry M. Neustein, Benjamin Landing, Frank R. Sinatra

A Subacute Rabbit Model for Hepatobiliary Dysfunction During Total Parenteral Nutrition

  • Gastroenterology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

Total parenteral nutrition (TPN) in children is associated with the complicating syndromes of cholestasis and cholelithiasis. The causes of these syndromes are not completely clear. Gastrointestinal hypomotility associated with enteral fasting may be involved in the pathogenesis of both syndromes. We compared weanling rabbits maintained solely on TPN with chow pair‐fed and free‐fed controls over a 10‐day period. Gastrointestinal transit time, assessed with a solid marker technique, was significantly greater in the TPN‐treated animals. No difference in intestinal or biliary bacterial flora was demonstrated by aerobic or anaerobic cultures. Gallbladder bile contained a higher percentage of lithocholic acid, unconjugated bilirubin, and total calcium in the TPN‐treated animals. Markers of hepatic dysfunction were elevated in the serum of the TPN‐treated animals. Mild steatosis and edema were the only histologic differences in the livers of the TPN‐treated animals. We conclude that gastrointestinal hypomotility associated with enteral fasting plays a role in the pathophysiologic changes leading to TPN‐associated hepatobiliary dysfunction. This dysfunction may be mediated by an increase in the absolute and relative concentrations of lithocholic acid in the bile of TPN‐treated animals.

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