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J Lipid Res. 1992 Apr;33(4):599-604.

A proposed nomenclature for bile acids.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla 92093.


A proposal is made for a system of nomenclature of the more common unconjugated and conjugated bile acids. Acceptable trivial names for bile acids are tabulated, and guidelines are proposed for using these existing trivial names as roots to create acceptable semi-systematic names for other bile acids, as well as for new natural bile acids that will be discovered in the future. The term alpha-hyocholic is recommended to replace hyocholic, and beta-hyocholic to replace omega-muricholic. The term murideoxycholic acid is recommended for 3 alpha,6 beta-dihydroxy-5 beta-cholan-24-oic acid. Proposals are also made for bile acids with epimeric hydroxy groups, for unsaturated bile acids, and for bile acids with oxo- and/or hydroxy-oxo- substituents on the nucleus and/or on the side chain. For conjugated bile acids, the term "aminoacyl amidates" is recommended to replace "amidates" for bile acids conjugated in N-acyl linkage with amino acids. Nomenclature for other types of conjugates (sulfates, glucuronides, glucosides) is included as well as abbreviations. It is recommended that the historic tradition of naming a newly discovered bile acid after the species from which it was isolated be abandoned, and that in the future such a bile acid should be named using the principles contained in this paper.

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