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Clin Res Hepatol Gastroenterol. 2011 Apr;35(4):281-7. doi: 10.1016/j.clinre.2011.01.009. Epub 2011 Feb 25.

Pathogenesis of cholesterol and pigment gallstones: an update.

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Dept of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Medical Center Utrecht, HP. F.02.618, PO Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Phase separation of cholesterol crystals from supersaturated bile is still considered the key event in cholesterol gallstone formation. In this review, we will first provide a basal framework of the interactions between the sterol, bile salts and phospholipids in aqueous solutions and then summarize new developments. The hepatocytic apical membrane harbours specific transport proteins for these lipids. Polymorphisms in the gene encoding the cholesterol transporter ABCG5-G8 have been found to increase overall gallstone risk, whereas functional mutations in the gene encoding the phospholipid floppase ABCB4 lead to the rare clinical syndrome of low phospholipid associated cholelithiasis. Expression of bile salt and phospholipid transport proteins is regulated bij the bile salt nuclear receptor Farnesoid X receptor (FXR), while the Liver X Receptor (LXR) α regulates ABCG5-G8. Although data from murine experiments suggest a critical role of FXR in gallstone formation, its role in human lithogenesis remains controversial. Variants of the gene encoding UGT1A1 (uridine 5'-diphosphate (UDP)-glucuronosyltransferase 1A1) responsible for bilirubin conjugation were recently associated with risk of gallstones as well as stone bilirubin content, suggesting common factors in cholesterol and pigment gallstone pathogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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