Ursodeoxycholic acid reduces protein levels and nucleation-promoting activity in human gallbladder bile

Gastroenterology. 1996 Apr;110(4):1225-37. doi: 10.1053/gast.1996.v110.pm8613013.


Background & aims: Ursodeoxycholic acid prevents gallstone formation in selected patients. The aim of this study was to examine whether decreased concentration and nucleation-promoting activity of various proteins contribute to this beneficial effect.

Methods: Gallbladder bile of 13 patients with cholesterol gallstones treated with ursodeoxycholic acid (10 mg/kg(-1)/day(-1)) and of 13 untreated patients were compared.

Results: Total protein concentration in gallbladder bile (2.8 +/- 0.6 vs. 6.7 +/- 1.3 mg/mL; P=0.008) and concanavalin A-binding fraction (0.16 +/- 0.03 vs. 0.42 +/- 0.07 mg/mL; P=0.003) were strongly decreased by ursodeoxycholic acid therapy. Significant decreases were also found for gallbladder bile alpha1-acid glycoprotein, haptoglobin, immunoglobulin (Ig) A, IgG, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, and aminopeptidase N but not for IgM, mucin, or beta-glucuronidase. Decreases were most pronounced for proteins of canalicular membrane origin. Gallbladder bile total protein correlated with cholesterol saturation index (r=0.54; P=0.0047) but not with bile salt hydrophobicity index. Crystallization-promoting activity of the concanavalin A-binding fraction (assessed by nephelometry and microscopic examination) was also significantly decreased by ursodeoxycholic acid.

Conclusions: Ursodeoxycholic acid strongly decreases levels of various proteins and nucleation-promoting activity in bile.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bile / drug effects*
  • Bile / metabolism
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics / therapeutic use*
  • Cholelithiasis / drug therapy*
  • Cholelithiasis / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Concanavalin A / metabolism
  • Crystallization
  • Female
  • Gallbladder / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Polarization
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucins / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylcholines / metabolism
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / therapeutic use*


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics
  • Mucins
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Proteins
  • Concanavalin A
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid
  • Cholesterol