Altered bile composition during cholesterol gallstone formation: Cause or effect?

Thomas H. Magnuson, Keith D. Lillemoe, David E. Scheeres, Henry A. Pitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Gallbladder stasis, increased gallbladder absorption, and elevated biliary levels of calcium, hydrogen ion, and bilirubin have been implicated as factors potentially critical to cholesterol crystal precipitation. Previous studies, however, have analyzed bile only when crystals or gallstones have already formed. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that changes in bile composition are a late effect, occurring only after crystal formation. Adult male prairie dogs were fed a standard nonlithogenic control diet (n = 7) or a lithogenic 1.2% cholesterol diet for 5, 9, or 14 days to cause cholesterol saturation (n = 7), cholesterol monohydrate crystals (n = 7), or gallstones (n = 7). Gallbladder bile was examined microscopically for crystals, and analyzed for ionized calcium, bilirubin, pH, total protein, and biliary lipids. The ratio of gallbladder to hepatic bile radiolabeled cholic acid specific activity (Rsa) was calculated as an index of gallbladder stasis. Cholesterol saturation index was calculated. The results demonstrate that increased gallbladder bile cholesterol saturation and total protein concentration precede cholesterol monohydrate crystal precipitation. However, changes in gallbladder ionized calcium, unconjugated bilirubin, pH, stasis, and absorption were noted only after crystals and gallstones had already formed. These data indicate that alterations in gallbladder bile calcium, bilirubin, pH, stasis, and absorption are not early changes, but occur simultaneously with or after crystal formation. Increased biliary protein, however, which was elevated prior to nucleation, may be an important mediator of cholesterol precipitation in cholesterol-saturated bile.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-589
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Altered bile composition during cholesterol gallstone formation: Cause or effect?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this