Quantitation of cholesterol crystallization from supersaturated model bile

B. Piero Portincasaa, Niels G. Vennemana, B. Antonio Moschettaa, André Den Van Bergc, Giuseppe Palascianob, Gerard P. Vanberge-Henegouwena, Karel J. Van Erpecuma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cholesterol crystallization is an essential step in gallstone formation. Although spectrophotometry and nephelometry have been used for quantitation of crystallization, potential effects of crystal size and shape have not been evaluated. We determined crystallization in model biles [total lipid concentration 7.3 g/dl, egg yolk Phosphatidylcholine (EYPC)/(EYPC+taurocholate) molar ratio = 0.05, 0.15, or 0.30; cholesterol saturation index (CSI) = 1.2, 1.7, or 2.0; 37°C] plotting in the central three-phase (micelles, vesicles, and crystals containing) zone or in the left two-phase (micelles and crystals containing) zone of the equilibrium ternary phase diagram. Extent of crystallization estimated by spectrophotometry and nephelometry was related to chemical determination of crystal mass and to crystal size or shape (by microscopy). With all methods, crystallization was less extensive when vesicles were present (central three-phase zone) and at lower CSIs. In the left two-phase zone, particularly at EYPC/(EYPC+taurocholate), ratio of 0.15, there were strong increases in spectrophotometric and nephelometric readings during the first days of incubation, but decreases at later stages, despite progressive increases in crystal mass by chemical measurement. Initially, there were large numbers of very small crystals (

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)604-610
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Bile salts
  • Gallstone
  • Micelles
  • Microscopy
  • Nephelometry
  • Phosphatidylcholine
  • Phospholipids
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Taurocholate
  • Vesicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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