The objective was to determine the safety and efficacy of a fish oil-based intravenous lipid emulsion (ILE) in the treatment of parenteral nutrition-associated liver disease (PNALD).

PNALD can be a lethal complication in children with short bowel syndrome (SBS). ILE based on soybean oil administered with parenteral nutrition (PN) may contribute to its etiology.

We performed an open-labeled trial of a fish oil-based ILE in 42 infants with SBS who developed cholestasis (serum direct bilirubin >2 mg/dL) while receiving soybean oil-based ILE. Safety and efficacy outcomes were compared with those from a contemporary cohort of 49 infants with SBS and cholestasis whose PN course included soybean ILE only. The primary efficacy end-point was time to reversal of cholestasis (direct bilirubin <=2 mg/dL).

Three deaths and 1 liver transplantation occurred in the fish oil cohort, compared with 12 deaths and 6 transplants in the soybean oil cohort (P = 0.005). Among survivors not transplanted during PN, cholestasis reversed while receiving PN in 19 of 38 patients in the fish oil cohort versus 2 of 36 patients in the soybean oil cohort. Based on Cox models, subjects receiving fish oil-based ILE experienced reversal of cholestasis 6 times faster (95% CI: 2.0-37.3) than those receiving soybean oil-based ILE. The provision of fish oil-based ILE was not associated with hypertriglyceridemia, coagulopathy, or essential fatty acid deficiency. Moreover, hypertriglyceridemic events and abnormal international normalized ratio levels were more common among controls.

Fish oil-based ILE is safe, may be effective in treating PNALD, and may reduce mortality and organ transplantation rates in children with SBS.

PMID: 19661785

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