Copper in bile has been shown by electrophoresis to occur neither as free ions nor complexed to protein but to be associated with a component of the micellar complexes of bile. Solvent fractionation studies suggest that the bile salt components of the lecithin-bile salt complexes are the active binding agents. The effects of specific bile salts on the behaviour of copper during electrophoresis supports this possibility.
The relationship of certain bile salts to the excretion of copper in man during the time that an external biliary fistula was functioning and to the intestinal absorption of copper in the rat was found to confirm this concept.
The results show that copper in bile is associated with taurochenodeoxycholate and suggest an explanation for the elevated tissue copper levels found in Wilson's disease.
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