One of the potential complications of bile acid therapy for gallstone disease is the promotion of intestinal absorption of cholesterol, thereby increasing the influx of cholesterol in body pools. To determine whether bile acid feeding is associated with an increased absorption of intestinal cholesterol, absorption measurements were made in 8 obese subjects given chenodeoxycholic acid (CCDA) or Bilron (750 mg/day). The bile acids were given in random order, separated by control periods, in patients undergoing weight reduction. Absorption of cholesterol (mass and percent) and of bile acids were determined by a technique of combined measurements of biliary lipid secretion and fecal steroid excretion. Our data showed that during treatment with either bile acid, a marked increase in pool size and hepatic secretion of bile acids occurred. However, despite an increased flux of bile acids through the intestinal tract, there was no significant increase in cholesterol absorption as compared to control periods. Absorption rates during administration of the two bile acids were approximately the same. Furthermore, plasma cholesterol concentrations were stable throughout both control and treatment periods. Bile acid absorption remained highly efficient (> 96%) during all periods, even with administration of exogenous bile acids.
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