Ethanol-associated fatty liver was induced in rats fed a nutritionally deficient liquid diet containing 36% of total calories as ethanol. Control rats received the same diet with sucrose substituted isocalorically for ethanol. After 40 days, hepatic lipid content of the ethanol-maintained animals was four-fold greater than controls and ultrastructural changes in hepatocytes were well established. Clearance of intravenously administered human enterokinase from the circulation as well as bile flow were, however, the same in both groups. The proportion of enterokinase appearing in catalytically active form in bile after intravenous injection was substantially greater in the ethanol-maintained animals than the isocaloric controls; the difference was highly significant (p less than 0.001) and reached two- to four-fold after 70 days on the diet. These findings would suggest that the ability of hepatocytes to degrade enterokinase cleared from the blood may be bypassed or impaired by prolonged ethanol consumption and a deficient diet. Catalytically active enterokinase in bile may participate in the development of some types of acute necrotising pancreatitis.
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