Ursodeoxycholic and tauro-ursodeoxycholic acids for the treatment of primary biliary cirrhosis: a pilot crossover study

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1997 Apr;11(2):409-14. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2036.1997.124295000.x.


Background: Results from animal studies and preliminary data from pilot studies in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis suggest that tauro-ursodeoxycholic acid has metabolic properties that may favour its long-term use as an alternative to ursodeoxycholic acid for patients with chronic cholestatic liver diseases. No direct comparison of tauro-ursodeoxycholic and ursodeoxycholic acids have yet been carried out in primary biliary cirrhosis.

Methods: The effects of ursodeoxycholic and tauro-ursodeoxycholic acids were compared in 23 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis according to a crossover design. Both drugs were administered at the daily dose of 500 mg. in a randomly assigned sequence for two 6-month periods separated by a 3-month wash-out period.

Results: Serum liver enzymes related to cholestasis and cytolysis consistently improved, as compared to baseline values, during the administration of both ursodeoxycholic and tauro-ursodeoxycholic acids, but no significant difference between these two bile acids was found. Both treatments were well tolerated and no patient complained of side effects.

Conclusion: In the short-term, tauro-ursodeoxycholic acid appears to be safe and at least as effective as ursodeoxycholic acid for the treatment of primary biliary cirrhosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cholagogues and Choleretics / therapeutic use*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / blood
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / drug therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Taurochenodeoxycholic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / therapeutic use*


  • Cholagogues and Choleretics
  • Lipids
  • Taurochenodeoxycholic Acid
  • ursodoxicoltaurine
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid