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Schriever, Carolin Erika and Jüngst, Dieter (1989): Association between cholesterol-phospholipid vesicles and cholesterol crystals in human gallbladder bile. In: Hepatology, Vol. 9, No. 4: pp. 541-546 [PDF, 642kB]


Rapid aggregation of cholesterol-phospholipid vesicles in gallbladder bile seems to be the first event in the production of cholesterol crystals, a prerequisite for cholesterol gallstone formation. We examined the amount of these vesicles in 33 human gallbladder biles in relation to biliary lipid composition and to the presence of cholesterol crystals. Biliary microscopy detected cholesterol crystals in all 19 biles from patients with cholesterol gallstones but in none of 14 biles from patients with pigment stones. Gel chromatography was used to separate vesicles and micelles in the native bile with an eluting buffer containing 10 mM sodium cholate to prevent disruption of micellar lipids. Cholesterol, phospholipid and bile salt concentrations were measured in every fraction collected. Bile acid, phospholipid, cholesterol and total lipid concentrations were not significantly different in samples with and without cholesterol crystals. The cholesterol saturation index (1.4 ± 0.11 vs. 1.0 ± 0.08) was significantly (p < 0.01) higher in biles with crystals than without crystals. Gel filtration revealed a vesicular peak in addition to micellar fraction in 18 (23.1 ± 3.2% of total cholesterol) of the 19 biles with crystals but only in three (15.7 ± 2.4% of total cholesterol) of 14 biles without crystals. There was no relation between biliary lipid concentration or the cholesterol saturation index and the percentage of vesicular cholesterol in biles with or without crystals. The close association of vesicles and crystals in human gallbladder bile supports the contention that vesicles are important in the initial nucleation of cholesterol monohydrate crystals.

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