Endogenous ursodeoxycholic acid and cholic acid in liver disease due to cystic fibrosis

Hepatology. 2004 Jun;39(6):1673-82. doi: 10.1002/hep.20238.


Focal biliary cirrhosis causes significant morbidity and mortality in cystic fibrosis (CF). Although the mechanisms of pathogenesis remain unclear, bile acids have been proposed as potential mediators of liver injury. This study examined bile acid composition in CF and assessed altered bile acid profiles to determine if they are associated with incidence and progression of liver injury in CF-associated liver disease (CFLD). Bile acid composition was determined by gas-liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry in bile, urine, and serum samples from 30 children with CFLD, 15 children with CF but without liver disease (CFnoLD), and 43 controls. Liver biopsies from 29 CFLD subjects were assessed histologically by grading for fibrosis stage, inflammation, and disruption of the limiting plate. A significantly greater proportion of endogenous biliary ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) was demonstrated in CFnoLD subjects vs. both CFLD subjects and controls (2.4- and 2.2-fold, respectively; ANOVA, P =.04), and a 3-4 fold elevation in endogenous serum UDCA concentration was observed in both CFLD subjects and CFnoLD subjects vs. controls (ANOVA, P <.05). In CFLD, there were significant correlations between serum cholic acid and hepatic fibrosis, inflammation, and limiting plate disruption as well as the ratio of serum cholic acid/chenodeoxycholic acid to hepatic fibrosis, inflammation, and limiting plate disruption. In conclusion, elevated endogenous UDCA in CFnoLD suggests a possible protective role against liver injury in these patients. The correlation between both cholic acid and cholic acid/chenodeoxycholic acid levels with histological liver injury and fibrosis progression suggests a potential monitoring role for these bile acids in CFLD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bile Acids and Salts / chemistry*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholic Acid / analysis*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Liver Diseases / etiology*
  • Liver Diseases / metabolism
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / analysis*


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid
  • Cholic Acid