Soluble dietary fiber protects against cholesterol gallstone formation

Am J Surg. 1999 Apr;177(4):307-10. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9610(99)00047-1.


Background: Epidemiological studies have suggested that soluble dietary fibers are hypocholesterolemic and may inhibit cholelithiasis.

Methods: Thirty prairie dogs were placed on a cholesterol-supplemented lithogenic diet. Ten animals received 5% psyllium (PSY) and 10 animals received 5% cellulose. After 6 weeks all gallbladders were inspected for stones; blood and bile were collected for analysis.

Results: Cholesterol stones were present in 8 of 10 of the control animals, in 6 of 10 of the cellulose group, and 3 of 10 of the PSY animals (P <0.05). Concentrations of cholesterol and chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA) were significantly lower in the PSY group compared with controls (0.49 versus 0.88 mM and 4.2 versus 9.2 mM, respectively) leading to a significant reduction in the cholesterol saturation index (0.62 versus 1.2).

Conclusions: A dietary soluble fiber (PSY) inhibits cholesterol stone formation by reducing the biliary cholesterol saturation index. This protective effect is associated with a selective decrease in biliary cholesterol and CDCA.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cathartics / administration & dosage
  • Cathartics / metabolism*
  • Cholelithiasis / physiopathology
  • Cholelithiasis / prevention & control*
  • Cholelithiasis / veterinary
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fiber*
  • Male
  • Psyllium / administration & dosage
  • Psyllium / metabolism*
  • Sciuridae


  • Cathartics
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Psyllium
  • Cholesterol