The effect of oral administration of ursodeoxycholic acid and high-dose proton pump inhibitors on the histology of Barrett's esophagus

Dis Esophagus. 2008;21(4):346-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2050.2007.00782.x.


Bile acids may play a role in the pathogenesis of Barrett's esophagus (BE). Bile composition can be influenced by oral administration of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA). We prospectively investigated the effect of proton pump inhibitors (PPI) supplemented with UDCA in vivo in patients with BE. Patients with no or low-grade dysplasia who were clinically asymptomatic on PPI were eligible for the study. In order to exclude the effects of acid reflux, all patients were initially treated with 40 mg esomeprazole (ESO) twice daily for 6 months and continued on this dose till the end of the study (t = 12 months). During a period of 6 months (t = 6 month - t = 12 month) patients were treated with oral UDCA (600 mg twice daily). Patients underwent endoscopy at t = 0 months, t = 6 months and t = 12 months with multiple biopsies of the distal and proximal BE segment, normal squamous and gastric cardia. In addition, pH was measured at t = 0 months and t = 6 months using a BRAVO wireless pH capsule. Bile was sampled at the beginning of the UDCA treatment and 6 months later (t = 6 month and t = 12 month). All biopsies were reviewed for the extent of metaplasia, dysplasia, and acute and chronic inflammation. In addition, proliferation (Ki67), differentiation (villin, cytokeratins 7 and 20) and inflammation (COX-2) were investigated by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Nine patients (mean age 60 years, median BE length 7 cm) were included, of whom six had no dysplasia and three had low-grade dysplasia. pH measurements revealed a normal acid exposure in most patients at t = 0 and t = 6 months. In addition, bile composition analysis demonstrated the efficacy of UDCA. Combining the results of both phases of the study, no significant changes were seen in any of the histological or IHC parameters. Differentiation and proliferation parameters showed no significant changes. In this study, in BE patients who were clinically asymptomatic on PPI, increasing the PPI dose to the maximum for 6 months followed by the addition of UDCA for 6 months did not result in significant histological or IHC changes in their BE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Barrett Esophagus / drug therapy*
  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology*
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / administration & dosage*


  • Cholagogues and Choleretics
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid