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J Lipid Res. 1995 Jun;36(6):1325-33.

Biliary haptoglobin, a potent promoter of cholesterol crystallization at physiological concentrations.

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Gastrointestinal Research Unit, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, OH 44195-5218, USA.



Several proteins present in human bile have been reported to promote cholesterol crystallization and thus are potentially important in the formation of cholesterol crystals as the initial stage in gallstone pathogenesis. To be physiologically relevant, such proteins must either be present in high concentration in bile or have a potent promoting activity. The current study explored several of the more abundant but unexamined biliary proteins based upon their also having sufficiently high serum concentrations that antibodies were available for both their isolation and quantitation.


Protein purification was accomplished by immunoaffinity chromatography of bile followed by delipidation. Con A affinity chromatography of bile was used to obtain the bound fraction, a portion of which was delipidated. Crystallization-promoting activity of both the purified proteins and Con A-bound glycoprotein fractions (CABG) was measured by a photometric crystal growth assay. A competitive antibody-capture ELISA assay was developed to measure concentrations of alpha 1-antitrypsin, transferrin, and haptoglobin in native bile.


At their relevant physiological concentrations, biliary haptoglobin (15 micrograms/ml) had a crystallization-promoting activity twice that of the biliary IgM (75 micrograms/ml) used as a reference standard (P < 0.05). Biliary transferrin (20 micrograms/ml) had only modest promoting activity (P < 0.05). Biliary alpha 1-antitrypsin (50 micrograms/ml), by contrast, showed no promoting activity. Delipidation of the CABG fraction decreased its promoting activity by 75%. Biliary haptoglobin accounts for about 30% of delipidated total CABG-promoting activity.


Biliary haptoglobin at its physiological concentration has a highly potent crystallization-promoting activity and thus becomes a candidate for major attention in understanding gallstone pathogenesis.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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