The reduced metastability of biliary cholesterol in the gall bladder bile of patients with cholesterol gall stones has been well shown. The purpose of this study was to examine the hypothesis that such a difference in metastability already exists in hepatic bile. Paired hepatic and gall bladder bile samples were collected from 10 patients with cholesterol gall stones and six patients without gall stones. Cholesterol nucleation time, biliary lipid concentration, vesicular cholesterol distribution, and biliary protein concentration were measured and compared. The nucleation time in the hepatic bile of patients with cholesterol gall stones was significantly shorter than the gall stone free patients (8·2 (7·2) v 15·7 (5·8) days, p<0·05), and was associated with a greater concentration of biliary lipid despite the lack of a difference in the cholesterol saturation index (CSI) and total protein concentration. During the storage of bile in the gall bladder, the nucleation time became quicker in the patients with cholesterol gall stone (2·9 (1·7) days) while it was similar in the gall stone free patients (17·3 (5·7) days) compared with that of the corresponding hepatic bile. These differences were associated with a higher CSI (1·44 (0·33) v 1·13 (0·14), p<0·05) and a greater vesicular cholesterol distribution (19·7 (11·9) v 4·4 (1·4)%, p<0·01) in the patients with cholesterol gall stones than the gall stone free patients. The concentrations of total lipid and protein in gall bladder bile were not significantly different between the two groups. In conclusion, patients with cholesterol gall stones produce less metastable hepatic bile by the evidence of shorter nucleation time. During the storage of the bile in the gall bladder, the metastability is reduced further only in the cholesterol gall stone patients but not in the gall stone free patients.
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