Biliary lipid secretion rates, faecal steroids, and serum lipids were studied in patients with chronic cholestatic liver disease mainly primary biliary cirrhosis. The biliary secretion of cholesterol, bile acids, and phospholipids was markedly decreased as compared with those in the control group and in general correlated negatively with the serum cholesterol and triglyceride values. The molar percentage of cholesterol was increased in the hepatic bile. This suggests that, in cholestatic liver disease, in contrast with the normal state, the hapatic bile may be supersaturated postprandially. Faecal bile acids and neutral sterols of cholesterol origin were decreased proportionately to the corresponding biliary lipid secretion rates. In fact, both biliary and faecal steroid outputs were only about a half or less than those in the controls, indicating that the fractional absorption was not changed but absolute absorption and faecal steroid excretion were low in patients with chronic cholestatic liver disease. Thus, despite low cholesterol and bile acid absorption, cholesterol and bile acid synthesis is low. A negative correlation between faecal steroids and serum cholesterol suggests that the high serum cholesterol level contributed to regulation of cholesterol synthesis.
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