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

18 Scopus citations


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 (<10 μm) in these biles, which were subsequently replaced by large cholesterol monohydrate crystals. Decreasing sizes of harvested cholesterol monohydrate crystals by sonication increased spectrophotometric and nephelometric values despite identical crystal mass. When cholesterol crystal mass is assayed by indirect methods such as spectrophotometry or nephelometry, results are strongly influenced by crystal size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)604-610
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of lipid research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantitation of cholesterol crystallization from supersaturated model bile'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this