Familial Chylomicronemia Syndrome (FCS)

Familial Chylomicronemia Syndrome (FCS) is a rare, genetic disorder of fat metabolism that is characterized by extremely high plasma triglyceride levels, which are 10- to 100-fold or more above normal.  FCS is estimated to occur 1 in 1 to 2 million people. FCS can be diagnosed at any age and affects gender, race, and ethnicity equally. 

Living with FCS imposes a significant burden on all aspects of patient’s lives and the lives of their families and caregivers. People with FCS report a reduced quality of life due to both the symptoms of FCS and needing to follow an extremely restricted low-fat diet. Together, people with FCS report the disease affects their ability to concentrate in school, limits employment opportunities due to frequent absences and inability to travel and participate in social activities with peers and family. Family members and caregivers may feel burdened trying to accommodate the restricted low-fat diet.

Common Synonyms for FCS

  • Lipoprotein lipase deficiency (LPLD)
  • Type 1 hyperlipoproteinemia
  • Endogenous hypertriglyceridemia
  • Familial fat-induced hypertriglyceridemia
  • Familial hyperchylomicronemia
  • Familial LPL deficiency
  • Hyperlipidemia Type I (Fredrickson)
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type IA
  • Lipase D deficiency
  • Chylomicronemia syndrome
  • Chylomicronemia, familial
  • Familial chylomicronemia
  • Hyperchylomicronemia familial
  • Hyperlipemia idiopathic Burger-Grutz type
  • Lipase D deficiency
  • Burger-Grutz syndrome


FCS is caused by insufficient or impaired function of the enzyme, lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which is responsible for breaking down (metabolizing) triglycerides. Decreased lipoprotein lipase function results from either mutations in the gene encoding lipoprotein lipase, or mutations in genes that code for other proteins needed for lipoprotein lipase to function properly.

Without lipoprotein lipase, triglycerides accumulate in the blood. Triglycerides are primarily carried in dietary lipids called chylomicrons. The chylomicrons remain intact and accumulate in the plasma of patients with FCS. The accumulation of chylomicrons can reduce blood flow through the pancreas, leading to acute pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis can lead to pancreatic damage or be fatal, in addition to other symptoms and complications.

There are at least six genes known to be associated with FCS, and most mutations occur in the LPL gene. This gene makes a protein called lipoprotein lipase, which helps break down fat in the blood. In people with FCS, a type of fat called triglyceride builds up in the body at very high levels, leading to health problems like pancreatitis.


While severe abdominal pain is the most common symptom of FCS, the symptoms of FCS can be clinical, emotional, and cognitive.

  • pain in the abdomen, often with back pain
  • extremely high triglycerides
  • frequent/chronic pancreatitis
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • bloating
  • physical weakness
  • constipation
  • indigestion
  • acute pancreatitis
  • fatigue
  • impaired memory
  • difficulty concentrating and problem solving
  • “brain fog”
  • anxiety/fear/worry about health
  • eruptive xanthomas (pink bumps that appear on your body, arms, and legs)
  • lipaemia retinalis (milky appearance of blood vessels in the eye)
  • hepatosplenomegaly
  • social isolation due to diet


FCS is diagnosed based on fasting triglyceride levels above or 750 mg/dL (8.5 mmol/L), which do not respond to standard lipid-lowering therapy, a history of recurrent abdominal pain and/or pancreatitis, and a family history of high plasma triglyceride levels. Fasting triglyceride levels are measured from a blood sample. When blood is drawn the plasma may have a milky appearance due to excessive lipids.

The diagnosis of FCS can be confirmed through genetic testing for mutations in the gene that encodes lipoprotein lipase (LPL), or mutations in genes that code for other proteins needed for lipoprotein lipase (LPL) to function properly. The most common mutations are LPL, apolipoprotein C2 (APOC2), lipase maturation factor 1 (LMF1), apolipoprotein A5 (APOA5), and glycosylphosphotidylinositol-anchored high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-binding protein 1 (GPIHBP1) 

Genetic Testing

FCS Focus offers no-cost, confidential genetic testing to eligible patients. The program aids in the diagnosis of familial chylomicronemia syndrome (FCS).

Working in partnership with GeneMatters and their genetic counsellors, the program provides information, support, and resources during the testing process. Click here for more information.


There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for FCS. Traditional treatments to reduce lipid levels such as statins, fibrates and niacin are not effective in people with FCS because the effectiveness of these medications depends, at least in part, on a functional lipoprotein lipase enzyme.

Dietary Management of FCS

Management of high serum triglyceride levels is by eating an extremely restrictive low-fat diet (<20g fat/day), which is 10 to 15% of total caloric intake. People with FCS may eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, egg whites, legumes, fat-free dairy products, seafood, and lean poultry. 

People with FCS can obtain essential fatty acids with supplements that include fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, K), minerals, and medium-chain triglycerides, as needed. Eating small, frequent meals that contain fat-free or low-fat protein is suggested. 

The strict diet avoids fat, simple carbohydrates, products high in sugars (desserts, fruit juices), alcohol, and drugs known to increase triglyceride levels such as diuretics, steroids, estrogens, high blood pressure medications, medications that suppress the immune system, antidepressants, some heart medications, and fish oil supplements. Even following the strict diet, triglyceride levels may remain elevated and patients with FCS may experience episodes of abdominal pain and recurrent pancreatitis. People with FCS report low satisfaction with this diet. Eating away from home is difficult, especially in restaurants. Purchasing fat-free foods can be expensive and preparing fat-free meals can be time-consuming. People with FCS are monitored regularly to ensure proper nutritional intake.

Quality of Life

FCS affects the quality of life of patients and their caregivers. The symptoms of FCS place a psychosocial and clinical burden on patients and their families and/or caregivers. 

The psychosocial burden is associated with the restricted diet, anxiety and stress and unpredictability of when FCS symptoms may appear. The clinical burden of FCS includes chronic abdominal pain and pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis causes debilitating pain, anxiety, loss of employment, and hospitalizations. People with FCS report fatigue, weakness, fear, worry, cognitive impairment such as impaired memory and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can have a significant impact on one’s day-to-day quality of life and may impair one’s ability to work.

Risks of FCS

Repeated episodes of acute pancreatitis can lead to chronic pancreatitis and signs of exocrine or endocrine pancreatic insufficiency, including pancreatic (type 3c) diabetes. Patients with extremely high levels of triglycerides may have a more severe course of pancreatitis, leading to worse outcomes including longer hospital stays, a higher rate of pancreatic necrosis, more frequent persistent organ failure, and higher rates of mortality. This risk may be lowered by treatment with a healthcare team that understands all aspects of the disease and may include a lipidologist, pancreatologist, gastroenterologist, primary care physician, registered dietitian, psychologist, and/or social worker.


Animated Pancreas Patient offers easy-to-understand animations with audio narration, expert video explanations, patient interviews, slide shows, and downloadable information on major pancreatic disease topics are available to you.

You will find expert advice to help you discuss key issues with your healthcare provider and make important decisions related to management and treatment.

FCS Focus has created a free suite of tools designed to ease the diagnosis, management, and understanding of familial chylomicronemia syndrome (FCS) and the FCS lifestyle.

Their helpful resources provide insight into FCS & Pancreatitis, Diet & Lifestyle and provide downloadable resources including Patient Guide to FCS, FCS CareBook and FCS Nutrition Toolkit. Download resources here.

LivingwithFCS.org is the site for all Familial Chylomicronemia Syndrome (FCS) patient, caregivers and family members that offers information, resources and support.

Their website provides information on FCS, nutritional support, genetic testing, rare disease resources, video library and current clinical studies.

HCP Live

HCPLive® is a comprehensive clinical news and information portal that provides physicians with up-to-date specialty and disease-specific resources designed to help them provide better care to patients.  

HCPLive® videos on Understanding and Managing FCS:

FCS Focus has created a free suite of tools designed to ease the diagnosis, management, and understanding of familial chylomicronemia syndrome (FCS) and the FCS lifestyle.

Download their helpful resources and also receive exclusive access to future updates and other FCS-related information.


  • Patient Guide to FCS
  • FCS Care Book
  • FCS Nutrition Toolkit

Patient Story: Soniya on FCS & Mental Health

At the age of 4-5 (perhaps even younger), I was getting frequent stomach aches. It was followed by vomiting and was lasting a long time, approximately a week, sometimes more. After doing blood tests and some further investigation, I was diagnosed with Hyperlipidemia Type 1, also
known as FCS.