Changes in bile acid composition in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis induced by ursodeoxycholic acid administration

Hepatology. 1991 Dec;14(6):1000-7.


We describe a detailed study of the effects of ursodeoxycholic acid administration on bile acid composition of the serum and bile of patients with primary biliary cirrhosis. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry was used to analyze bile acids from 10 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis before and during ursodeoxycholic acid administration (500 mg/day, corresponding to approximately 8 mg/kg body wt), after group separation of the unconjugated and conjugated fractions by lipophilic anion exchange chromatography. These studies were directed at assessing whether the beneficial role of ursodeoxycholic acid in primary biliary cirrhosis was the consequence of a shift in the hydrophobic/hydrophilic balance of the bile acid pool and whether the hypercholeresis might result from the cholehepatic circulation of unconjugated ursodeoxycholic acid in bile. In basal conditions, the unconjugated bile acids accounted for only 5.5% and 2.5%, respectively, of the total bile acids of serum and bile; cholic acid was the major component of the conjugated fraction of serum and bile (56.0% +/- 4.0%, mean +/- S.E.M.), and ursodeoxycholic acid was present in only trace amounts. The conjugated fraction contained many unusual bile acids (representing 16.5% +/- 1.3% of total) including C25 bile acids, iso-chenodeoxycholic acid and several oxo-bile acids. After ursodeoxycholic acid administration biochemical indices of liver function all improved, but the proportions of the unconjugated bile acids in serum and bile did not significantly change.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Bile / chemistry
  • Bile Acids and Salts / analysis*
  • Bile Acids and Salts / blood
  • Humans
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / blood
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / metabolism*
  • Pruritus / physiopathology
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / pharmacology*


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid