Bile acid concentrations in human and rat liver tissue and in hepatocyte nuclei

Gastroenterology. 1997 Jan;112(1):226-35. doi: 10.1016/s0016-5085(97)70239-7.


Background & aims: Bile acids exert cellular and molecular effects in the liver, but little is known about tissue concentrations. The aim of this study was to characterize bile acid composition in human and rat liver tissue and hepatocyte nuclei and examine the effects of experimental cholestasis and bile acid administration.

Methods: Bile acids were measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

Results: Liver tissue concentrations of sham-operated rats were 130.8 +/- 21.3 nmol/g, representing 2%-4% of the bile acid pool; cholic and delta 22-beta-muricholic acids were the major bile acids identified. Concentrations increased 7-8-fold with bile duct ligation; deoxycholate and hyodeoxycholate disappeared. Lithocholate concentrations were higher in ligated rats (6.4 +/- 0.4 vs. 3.9 +/- 0.5 nmol/g for sham-operated). Total bile acid concentrations in human liver tissue were 61.6 +/- 29.7 nmol/g and comprised mainly chenodeoxycholic and cholic acids. Concentrations were higher during ursodeoxycholate or tauroursodeoxycholate administration (157.2 +/- 45.6 and 161.6 +/- 43.4 nmol/g, respectively), and liver tissue was enriched 30% in ursodeoxycholate at the expense of hydrophobic bile acids. Bile acids were identified in rat hepatic nuclei (50-110 pmol/4 x 10(7) nuclei), accounting for < 0.1% of liver tissue levels.

Conclusions: Human and rat liver tissue bile acid concentrations are low, increase with bile acid administration or bile duct ligation, and account for only a small fraction of the bile acid pool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Bile Acids and Salts / analysis*
  • Cell Nucleus / chemistry*
  • Cholestasis
  • Humans
  • Liver / chemistry*
  • Liver / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Taurochenodeoxycholic Acid / pharmacology
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / pharmacology


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Taurochenodeoxycholic Acid
  • ursodoxicoltaurine
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid