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J Membr Biol. 2014 Nov;247(11):1067-82. doi: 10.1007/s00232-014-9715-3. Epub 2014 Aug 9.

The mechanism of enterohepatic circulation in the formation of gallstone disease.

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Department of General Surgery, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, 12 Wulumuqi Road, Shanghai, 200040, People's Republic of China,


Bile acids entering into enterohepatic circulating are primary acids synthesized from cholesterol in hepatocyte. They are secreted actively across canalicular membrane and carried in bile to gallbladder, where they are concentrated during digestion. About 95% BAs are actively taken up from the lumen of terminal ileum efficiently, leaving only approximately 5% (or approximately 0.5 g/d) in colon, and a fraction of bile acids are passively reabsorbed after a series of modifications in the human large intestine including deconjugation and oxidation of hydroxy groups. Bile salts hydrolysis and hydroxy group dehydrogenation reactions are performed by a broad spectrum of intestinal anaerobic bacteria. Next, hepatocyte reabsorbs bile acids from sinusoidal blood, which are carried to liver through portal vein via a series of transporters. Bile acids (BAs) transporters are critical for maintenance of the enterohepatic BAs circulation, where BAs exert their multiple physiological functions including stimulation of bile flow, intestinal absorption of lipophilic nutrients, solubilization, and excretion of cholesterol. Tight regulation of BA transporters via nuclear receptors (NRs) is necessary to maintain proper BA homeostasis. In conclusion, disturbances of enterohepatic circulation may account for pathogenesis of gallstones diseases, including BAs transporters and their regulatory NRs and the metabolism of intestinal bacterias, etc.

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