The present study aimed at a further evaluation of the role of glycoproteins in the formation of cholesterol gall stones in man. An electron microscopic morphometric study of the gall bladder epithelium was performed in six gall stone free subjects and 12 gall stone patients. Six of the gall stone patients were treated with ursodeoxycholic acid three weeks before cholecystectomy. The number and the volume density of the mucin containing secretory granules, were not significantly increased in gall stone patients compared with gall stone free subjects. Treatment with ursodeoxycholic acid did not affect the number or volume density of the secretory granules. Thus, these results do not give evidence for that the degree of cholesterol saturation influences mucin content in the gall bladder wall of man. A major new finding was that gall stone patients had a markedly reduced total lysosome area and volume density of lysosomes compared with gall stone free subjects, a finding which may be related to a decreased intracellular degradation of protein and/or mucin.
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