Cholesterol supersaturation of bile in women during oral contraceptive use

C. Di Padova, M. Zuin, G. Campana, M. Podda

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The consistent increase of the lithogenic index of gallbladder bile in women on oral contraceptives confirms previous findings of Bennion et al. Production of lithogenic bile following oral contraceptives was dependent upon the substantial increase of cholesterol concentration though it is not possible to establish whether it reflects an increase of its secretion and/or a reduction of bile acid output. Recent data obtained in hamsters treated with ethynylestradiol seem to support the latter hypothesis. In fact it is likely that the effects on biliary lipid composition depend mainly on the oestrogen component, since in several experimental models oestrogen treatment was followed by increased cholesterol saturation of bile. Similar findings were obtained in humans after the administration of a single large dose of conjugated oestrogens. The bile acid pool size showed variations in both senses during treatment and no significant difference was found. This makes a marked inhibition of the synthesis of bile acids unlikely even if a concomitant reduction of the number of their recycling could be at least partially responsible for the lithogenic bile induced by oral contraceptives. Female hormones have in fact been shown to reduce gallbladder motility. Therefore lithogenic bile secretion in women receiving oral contraceptives may be dependent upon more than one factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-63
Number of pages2
JournalItalian Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number1 suppl.
Publication statusPublished - 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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