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J Clin Invest. 1992 Feb;89(2):420-31.

Physicochemical and physiological properties of cholylsarcosine. A potential replacement detergent for bile acid deficiency states in the small intestine.

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


The properties of cholylsarcosine (the synthetic N-acyl conjugate of cholic acid with sarcosine [N-methylglycine]) were examined to determine its suitability as a bile acid replacement agent for conditions of bile acid deficiency in the small intestine, which causes fat malabsorption. Previous studies in rodents had shown that the compound was well transported by the liver and ileum and underwent neither deconjugation nor dehydroxylation during enterohepatic cycling. By 1H-nuclear magnetic resonance, cholylsarcosine was found to exist in dilute aqueous solution as an almost equimolar mixture of two geometric isomers--cis and trans (around the amide bond)--in contrast to cholylglycine, which was present entirely in the trans form. The critical micellization concentration was 11 mmol/liter, similar to that of cholylglycine (10 mmol/liter). By nonaqueous titrimetry, the pKa' of cholylsarcosine was 3.7, only slightly lower than that of cholylglycine (3.9). Cholylsarcosine was poorly soluble below pH 3.7, but highly soluble above pH 4. In vitro, cholylsarcosine behaved as cholylglycine with respect to promoting lipolysis by lipase/colipase. There was little difference between cholylsarcosine and cholylglycine in their solubilization of an equimolar mixture of oleic acid, oleate, and monoolein (designed to simulate digestive products of triglyceride) or in their solubilization of monooleyl-glycerol alone. When a [3H]triolein emulsion with either cholylsarcosine or cholyltaurine was infused intraduodenally in biliary fistula rats, recovery of 3H in lymph was 52 +/- 10% (mean +/- SD) for cholylsarcosine and 52 +/- 11% for cholyltaurine. When perfused into the colon of the anesthetized rabbit, cholylsarcosine (5 mmol/liter) did not influence water absorption or permeability to erythritol, in contrast to chenodeoxycholate, which induced vigorous water secretion and caused erythritol loss. We conclude that cholylsarcosine possesses the physicochemical and physiological properties required for a suitable bile acid replacement in deficiency states.

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