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Gastroenterology. 1995 Jul;109(1):264-74.

Model bile and bile salts accelerate mucin secretion by cultured dog gallbladder epithelial cells.

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Department of Gastroenterology, University of Amsterdam, Academic Medical Center, The Netherlands.



Hypersecretion of gallbladder mucin has been proposed as a pathogenic factor in gallstone formation. We investigated whether mucin secretion is modulated by biliary constituents using normal, well-differentiated dog gallbladder epithelial cells.


Model biles or bile salts were applied to monolayers of epithelial cells. Mucin secretion was studied by measuring the secretion of [3H]N-acetyl-D-glucosamine-labeled glycoproteins.


Model biles with different cholesterol saturation indices increased mucin secretion by the cells to an average 251% after 5 hours of incubation (P < 0.01). Mucin secretion remained elevated during a 24-hour period, suggesting a sustained effect on mucin secretion. There was no relation between the cholesterol or phospholipid concentration and the extent of stimulation of mucin secretion. Taurocholate caused a dose-dependent increase in mucin secretion, suggesting that bile salt was the bile component responsible for the stimulatory effect. At a concentration of 0.5 mmol/L, only the more hydrophobic bile salts taurochenodeoxycholate and taurodeoxycholate, but not the hydrophylic bile salts taurocholate and tauroursodeoxycholate, stimulated mucin secretion (P < 0.01).


Bile salts play an important role in the regulation of mucin secretion. A shift in the bile salt composition of bile towards the more hydrophobic bile salts may cause mucin hypersecretion, thereby initiating cholesterol gallstone formation.

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