There are many changes in the plasma, lipids, and lipoproteins in patients with liver disease. They have proved difficult to study but our understanding of these changes has increased greatly during recent years. In obstructive jaundice hyperlipidaemia is a fairly constant finding and this appears to be due to the regurgitation of phospholipid from the obstructed biliary tree. The plasma lipids tend to fall with parenchymal liver disease. The composition of the lipoproteins depends on the activity of the plasma enzyme lecithin: cholesterol acyl transferase. When LCAT activity is high the individual lipoprotein fractions are normal. When it is reduced all of the lipoprotein fractions are affected but the pattern found with obstruction is quite different from that found with parenchymal disease. The changes in plasma lipoproteins appear to be associated with change in the lipid composition of cellular membranes and this may have important functional implications.
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