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Turk J Gastroenterol. 2007 Jun;18(2):65-70.

Biliary lipid secretion.

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Department of Biochemistry, Ankara University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ankara.


The liver has many biochemical functions, of which one of the most important is bile formation. Bile is both a secretory and an excretory fluid and two of its most important functions are the delivery to the intestinal tract of: (i) bile acids to assist in fat digestion and absorption; and (ii) liver-derived metabolites of potentially toxic materials prior to their elimination from the body in the feces. Bile contains numerous solutes, including bile acids, phospholipids and cholesterol. Biliary lipids mainly consist of cholesterol and phospholipids and their secretion into bile is affected by the secretion of bile acids. Phospholipids and cholesterol are synthesized in the hepatocytes and are thought to be transferred via vesicle- and non-vesicle-mediated mechanisms into the bile canaliculus. Hepatocytes acquire biliary lipid by three pathways, which are biosynthesis, lipoproteins and existing molecules drawn from intracellular membranes, with the newly synthesized biliary lipid accounting for less than 20% of the total lipids. The hepatic determinants of biliary cholesterol elimination are not limited to total cholesterol homeostasis, but also concern biliary disease conditions, since excess biliary cholesterol secretion is involved in cholesterol gallstone formation, as well as being a major risk factor for gallbladder cancer. The purpose of this review was to highlight some of the major mechanisms involved in biliary lipid secretion.

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