Lipotropic substances (from the Greek. Lipos - fat and trepo - turn, turn away) are compounds that have the ability to prevent fatty infiltration of the liver that occurs in animals and humans under the influence of certain factors. The most active lipotropic substances include choline (see), methionine (see), inositol (see), lecithins (see), casein (see), methylated derivatives of purines (caffeine), and pancreatic drugs ( see lipocaine). The introduction of these compounds into the body prevents or dramatically reduces the degree of liver obesity that occurs when there is a violation of external secretion of the pancreas, in conditions of endogenous or exogenous protein deficiency, with prolonged consumption of food containing large amounts of lipids, including cholesterol, and with enhanced formation in the liver carbohydrate fats under the influence of vitamin B1 or other factors.
The mechanism of action of these lipotropic substances is not fully understood. All these lipotropic substances vary considerably in the strength of the lipotropic effect, in its severity in liver obesity of various origins. However, they all have an effect in those cases of liver obesity, which are caused either by increased synthesis of fats in the liver from carbohydrates, or by impaired transfer of fatty acids from the liver to fat depots. In those cases of obesity, which are caused by an increase in the transfer of fat from fat depots to the liver (administration of extracts of the anterior pituitary, poisoning with phosphorus or carbon tetrachloride), these lipotropic substances are either not at all effective or have very little effect.