Bilirubin inhibits bile acid induced apoptosis in rat hepatocytes

A. Granato, G. Gores, M. T. Vilei, R. Tolando, C. Ferraresso, M. Muraca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background and aims: Hydrophobic bile acids contribute to hepatocellular injury in cholestasis and rapidly induce apoptosis in vitro; however, unlike Fas agonists, cholestasis does not cause extensive hepatocyte apoptosis. As antioxidants provide protection against bile acid induced liver injury, our premise was that bilirubin, a free radical scavenger with increased plasma levels in the presence of liver disease, could protect hepatocytes against bile acid induced apoptosis. Methods: Freshly isolated rat hepatocytes were incubated for four hours with 100 μmol/l glycochenodeoxycholate (GCDC) alone or with increasing concentrations of unconjugated (UCB) or conjugated (CB) bilirubin. Results: Both UCB and CB inhibited GCDC induced apoptosis in a dose dependent fashion and suppressed the generation of reactive oxygen species by hepatocytes. Conclusions: The antiapoptotic effect of bilirubin associated with its antioxidant properties indicates that hyperbilirubinaemia may have a protective role in liver disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1774-1778
Number of pages5
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology

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    Granato, A., Gores, G., Vilei, M. T., Tolando, R., Ferraresso, C., & Muraca, M. (2003). Bilirubin inhibits bile acid induced apoptosis in rat hepatocytes. Gut, 52(12), 1774-1778.