The cytotoxicity of hydrophobic bile acids is ameliorated by more hydrophilic bile acids in intestinal cell lines IEC-6 and Caco-2

Oncol Rep. Nov-Dec 2003;10(6):1931-6.


Bile acids, especially those with hydrophobic properties, are known to possess cytotoxicity. However, the mechanisms responsible for the cytotoxicity of bile acids are still under investigation. On the other hand, the hydrophilic bile acid, ursodeoxycholic acid has been reported to exhibit therapeutic effects against cytotoxic hydrophobic bile acids. The aim of the present study was to investigate the cytotoxicity of individual bile acids and combinations of bile acids using the intestinal cell lines IEC-6 and Caco-2 cells. The cytotoxicities of individual bile acids and the effects of various bile acid combinations were evaluated using the MTS [3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxy-phenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium] assay. The bile acids induced cytotoxic effects depending on their hydrophobicity except for hyodeoxycholic acid. In the study for the effects of combined bile acids, not only ursodeoxycholic acid but other hydrophilic bile salts such as cholic acid and hyocholic acid exhibited cytoprotection against deoxycholic acid-induced cytotoxicity. Moreover, even some hydrophobic bile acids, such as chenodeoxycholic acid also exhibited cytoprotection. It is possible that the cytotoxicity of hydrophobic bile acids is ameliorated by more hydrophilic bile acids under certain conditions. The understanding of the precise mechanism of this phenomenon remains to be determined.

MeSH terms

  • Bile Acids and Salts / chemistry
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism*
  • Bile Acids and Salts / pharmacology
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics / pharmacology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Intestines / cytology*
  • Intestines / drug effects
  • Tetrazolium Salts / pharmacology
  • Thiazoles / pharmacology
  • Time Factors
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / pharmacology


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics
  • Tetrazolium Salts
  • Thiazoles
  • 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid