Liver Disease and Medium Chain Triglycerides
Liver disease encompasses numerous disorders which disrupt the normal functions of the liver. Normal liver functions include: breaking down harmful substances, removing waste products from the blood, storing nutrients and vitamins, and moderating chemical levels in the body. Types of liver disease include: viral hepatitis, autoimmune diseases (primary biliary cirrhosis), genetic diseases (hemochromatosis), alcoholic hepatitis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (Mayo Clinic, 2003). Two prevalent forms of cancer exist as well; liver cancer and bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma). When we think of liver disease the main topics that come to our minds are non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and hepatitis. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease in the US (Web MD, 2005). It is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol. Although this is not normal, it is not considered serious if it doesn't lead to inflammation or damage. On the other hand people can develop what is called non-alcoholic steatohepatisis (NASH). NASH can lead to permanent liver damage. The liver may enlarge and cells may be replaced by scar tissue, also known as cirrhosis. If the liver cannot work right liver failure, liver cancer, and liver-related deaths may develop. The causes for the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are not well defined, yet many factors have shown an increased risk. The disease tends to run families, meaning there is a genetic component. Also, it appears often in middle-aged, overweight or obese patients. Multiple other risk factors exist, but many do not show up in cases of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (Web MD, 2005). Hepatitis means the inflammation of the liver. Viral hepatitis is caused by infection with any of at least five distinct viruses: hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, hepatitis D virus, and hepatitis E virus. The most common types in the US are hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV), and hepatitis C (HCV). It is estimated that within the next 10 years about 150,000 people in the US will die from liver cancer and liver disease associated with hepatitis B & C. 1-2% of the population in the US are living with HBV or HCV (Hepatitis and liver..., 2010). Chronic viral hepatitis infections are 3–5 times more frequent than HIV in the US. Since the year 2000 the rate of hepatitis A, B, and C infections has decreased. A decrease in the HBV is contributed to the development of the hepatitis B vaccine. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. HCV is transmitted by direct exposure to infectious blood. Populations likely to have chronic HCV infection include those who received a blood transfusion before 1992 and past or current injection-drug users (Hepatitis and liver..., 2010). Populations at risk for all hepatitis infections include: Asian and Pacific Islanders, those with STD’s, HIV/AIDS, and African Americans. Many treatments have been developed to combat liver diseases. Vaccines have been developed for hepatitis B, medications are used for patients with cirrhosis, and a final option of liver transplants if liver failure occurs. A common technique used to help treat patients with liver diseases is the introduction of a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) diet. In comparison to the normal Long Chain Triglycerides (LCT) found in foods MCT’s are only 8-10 carbon units long. They are prepared synthetically by processing coconut oil and palm kernel oils.  MCT therapeutic diets are being used as medicine for many patients who have trouble digesting and absorbing fats. MCT’s are absorbed intact into the mucosal cell by an intracellular lipase, rather than a pancreatic lipase. The lipolysis of MCT’s leads to complete degradation to fatty acids (FA) and a glycerol molecule. The FA’s produced are not re-esterified and secreted into the...
References: 1. Mayo Clinic. (2003). Liver disease. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/liver-disease.html
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5. Das, A. M., Lücke, T., Meyer, U., Hartmann, H., & Illsinger, S. (2010). Glycogen Storage Disease Type 1: Impact of Medium-Chain Triglycerides on Metabolic Control and Growth. Annals Of Nutrition & Metabolism, 56(3), 225-232.
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1. Das, A. M., Lücke, T., Meyer, U., Hartmann, H., & Illsinger, S. (2010). Glycogen Storage Disease Type 1: Impact of Medium-Chain Triglycerides on Metabolic Control and Growth. Annals Of Nutrition & Metabolism, 56(3), 225-232
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