Cyclosporin A-mediated cholestasis in patients with chronic hepatitis after heart transplantation

Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1996 Mar;8(3):267-71. doi: 10.1097/00042737-199603000-00015.


Viral chronic hepatitis often occurs in heart transplant recipients receiving cyclosporin. This essential immunosuppressive drug may induce cholestasis. We investigated the effect of treatment with cyclosporin on serum conjugated bile acids in patients with chronic hepatitis developing after heart transplantation. Fifty-nine patients were studied: 17 with chronic hepatitis, 15 heart transplant patients with normal alanine aminotransferase activity, and 27 heart transplant patients with chronic hepatitis, the last two groups receiving cyclosporin. Hepatic biochemical tests and total bile acid concentration were determined on fasting blood samples. The individual glyco- and tauroconjugated bile acids were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography and direct spectrometry. In patients taking cyclosporin the bilirubin concentration and the alkaline phosphatase activity were increased only when hepatitis was present, in association with a slight increase in cholic acid level (5.13 microM vs. 0.68 microM; P < 0.01). Conjugated lithocholate concentration was dramatically higher when hepatitis and immunosuppression with cyclosporin were associated (1.17 microM vs. 0.03 and 0.04 microM; P < 0.01). Chenodeoxycholate was the main circulating bile acid only in the heart transplant patients treated with cyclosporin but without hepatitis. These results suggest that the mechanisms which explain the cyclosporin-associated modifications of the bile acid pool are different according to the presence or absence of hepatitis. The occurrence of hepatitis in patients on cyclosporin led to an increase in serum lithocholate and primary bile acid concentrations. Further studies are required to assess the effect of ursodeoxycholic acid for this cholestasis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Bile Acids and Salts / blood
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Chenodeoxycholic Acid / blood
  • Cholestasis / blood
  • Cholestasis / chemically induced*
  • Cholic Acid
  • Cholic Acids / blood
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cyclosporine / adverse effects*
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Glycocholic Acid / blood
  • Heart Transplantation*
  • Hepatitis, Chronic / blood
  • Hepatitis, Chronic / complications*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Lithocholic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Taurocholic Acid / blood
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / blood


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Cholic Acids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Chenodeoxycholic Acid
  • Taurocholic Acid
  • Lithocholic Acid
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid
  • Cyclosporine
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Cholic Acid
  • Glycocholic Acid
  • Bilirubin