The effect of chronic estrogen application on bile and gallstone composition in women with cholelithiasis

Minerva Endocrinol. 2016 Mar;41(1):19-27. Epub 2014 Nov 21.


Background: Chronic application of third generation progestagens as contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could influence the serum lipid profile, and consequently the bile and gallstone composition. The aim of this study was to determine components of serum, bile and gallstones in women of reproductive age or postmenopausal women using hormonal third generation for at least two years.

Methods: We enrolled 101 Caucasian women with cholelithiasis. The study included 45 women of reproductive age and 56 postmenopausal women who were divided into subgroups receiving or not exogenous female hormones. In patients we determined serum levels of 17β-estradiol, triglycerides, HDL and LDL cholesterol as well as composition of gallstones and bile.

Results: The postmenopausal women showed a significant reduction in the concentration of bile acids in serum while the application of HRT caused an increase in their contents. Serum total and LDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women was higher than in women without hormonal contraception and postmenopausal patients with HRT. Moreover, women taking the exogenous hormones showed a reduced content of calcium ions in both serum, bile and gallstones.

Conclusions: Our observations confirm that the chronic use of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy cause an increase in bile lithogenity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bile / chemistry*
  • Bile / drug effects
  • Cholelithiasis / metabolism*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / pharmacology
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy
  • Estrogens / metabolism
  • Estrogens / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gallstones / chemistry*
  • Gallstones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal
  • Estrogens