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Gastroenterology. 1990 Aug;99(2):454-65.

Concentrative biliary secretion of ceftriaxone. Inhibition of lipid secretion and precipitation of calcium ceftriaxone in bile.

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


The hepatic transport of ceftriaxone, a third-generation cephalosporin, was characterized in the rat and hamster; its effect on bile flow and bile acid-induced biliary lipid secretion was also measured. In anesthetized rats with biliary fistulae, the Tmax was about 5, and in the hamster the Tmax was about 1 The compound was not biotransformed. At high secretion rates, the concentration of cephalosporin in bile increased to 27 mmol/L, a concentration far exceeding the solubility product of its calcium salt [2 x 10(-6) (mol/L)2], which precipitated from bile. In the rat, ceftriaxone induced choleresis (22 microL/mumol ceftriaxone, the expected value for a dianionic compound). In the isolated perfused rat liver, ceftriaxone had a fractional hepatic extraction rate averaging 3%; the compound was concentratively secreted into bile, the bile-perfusate ratio ranging from 35-250. Ceftriaxone inhibited phospholipid and cholesterol secretion induced by endogenous or exogenous bile acids; the rate of inhibition was linearly proportional to the canalicular secretion rate of ceftriaxone. Hepatic transport of ceftriaxone had no influence on hepatic secretion of ursodeoxycholyltaurine. In contrast, the net hepatic transport of ursodeoxycholic acid, ursodeoxycholyltaurine, or cholyltaurine inhibited ceftriaxone transport in a dose-dependent manner. It is concluded that ceftriaxone and bile acids share a common mechanism for hepatic transport in the rat and also interact in the processes involved in biliary lipid secretion. Biliary secretion of unbiotransformed ceftriaxone occurs at high concentrations; secondary Ca2+ entry results in the formation of supersaturated canalicular bile and subsequent precipitation as a calcium salt in the biliary tract. These data explain the formation of biliary sludge that occurs in patients undergoing high-dose ceftriaxone therapy.

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