Background: Primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis are two cholestatic diseases characterised by hepatic accumulation of bile acids.
Aims: This study compares serum bile acid levels in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis and from age and sex-matched non cholestatic donors.
Methods: Seventeen bile acids were quantified using liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry. Serum samples from cholestatic patients were compared with those of non-cholestatic donors.
Results: The concentration of total bile acids, taurine and glycine conjugates of primary bile acids was elevated in both patients with primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis when compared to non-cholestatic donors. Samples from primary sclerosing cholangitis patients displayed reduced levels of secondary acids, when compared to non cholestatic and primary biliary cirrhosis sera. The ratio of total glycine versus total taurine conjugates was reduced in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis, but not in primary sclerosing cholangitis.
Conclusion: The present study suggests that circulating bile acids are altered differentially in primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis patients.
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