We have previously demonstrated that gallbladder bile is supersaturated with calcium bilirubinate in a canine dietary model of pigment gallstones. Supersaturation resulted from combined increases in the concentrations of both biliary calcium and unconjugated bilirubin. The elevations in biliary calcium and unconjugated bilirubin concentrations remain unexplained but could possibly be due to increases in hepatic or ductular secretion, alterations in bile composition with respect to calcium- or bilirubin-binding affinity, decreases in absorption from the gallbladder lumen, or, in the case of unconjugated bilirubin, production within the lumen by hydrolysis of conjugated bilirubin. Here, we study a single possible cause for the observed increase in biliary calcium concentration during pigment gallstone formation in dogs. Secretion of calcium into bile in dogs with pigment gallstones before and after infusion of the bile salt, taurocholate, was compared to normal dogs. A significant increase in bile acid-independent bile flow and calcium output (CaO) was observed at any given bile acid output. Thus, plots of bile flow and CaO versus bile acid output yielded two separate functions in normal dogs and dogs with pigment gallstones. The slopes of these functions were similar, but intercepts extrapolated to zero bile acid output were markedly different, indicating that bile acid-independent, but not bile acid-dependent, bile flow and CaO was increased. The increase in CaO was not due to secretion of bile with increased concentrations of calcium but rather to the increases in the rate of bile flow. These findings might, in part, explain elevated calcium concentrations since increased amounts of calcium would be presented to the gallbladder in these animals during gallstone formation.
- bile acid-dependent bile flow
- bile acid-independent bile flow
- calcium output
- pigment gallstones
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