Original communication| Volume 87, ISSUE 5, P509-513, May 1980

Respiratory failure in acute pancreatitis: The role of free fatty acids

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      Hypertriglyceridemia has been noted in patients with acute pancreatitis and respiratory failure. Utilizing an isolated, perfused, canine pulmonary lobe, the effect of triglyceride infusion on pulmonary function was evaluated. When heparin was used to anticoagulate the perfusion circuit, the addition of triglyceride to the autologous blood perfusate resulted in massive weight gain (226 gm), intrapulmonary shunting (36%), and a marked drop in pulmonary compliance (∼-50%). Heparin activates lipoprotein lipase, and therefore some triglyceride in the perfusate was lipolyzed with a resultant increase in serum free fatty acids (FFAs) to 253 μmole/dl. When anticoagulation of the perfusion circuit was accomplished by defibrinogenation with Arvin, the addition of triglyceride to the autologous blood perfusate caused minimal weight gain (28 gm), no intrapulmonary shunting, and only a slight decrease in pulmonary compliance (22%). Arvin has no effect on lipoprotein lipase, and the FFA level in the perfusate remained normal (< 70 μmole/dl). Thus it appears that FFA release secondary to the action of pulmonary lipoprotein lipase on blood triglyceride is the important pathogenic step in the induction of respiratory failure in this model.
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