Cholic acid and ursodeoxycholic acid therapy in primary biliary cirrhosis

Research paper by S. Güldütuna, M. Leuschner, N. Wunderlich, A. Nickel, S. Bhatti, K. Hübner, U. Leuschner

Indexed on: 01 Oct '93Published on: 01 Oct '93Published in: European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology


We treated 6 patients with Stage II primary biliary cirrhosis with cholic acid (CA) 10 mg · kg−1 per day for 3 months and then with the same dose of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA). A matching group of 6 patients was observed for 3 months without any therapy. Liver function tests and serum and stool bile acids were investigated before, during and at the end of CA and UDCA therapy.The results of liver function tests deteriorated after 6–8 weeks of CA therapy and the changes were correlated (r=0.92) with an increase in α-dihydroxy-bile acids (chenodeoxycholic acid and deoxycholic acid) in the serum. The 24 h excretion of DCA in 24 h faeces was markedly increased.Ursodeoxycholic acid treatment improved liver function tests; after 4 weeks glutamate dehydrogenase (GLDH) had decreased. After 8–12 weeks of therapy ursodeoxycholic acid had increased to 50–60% of the total serum bile acids whereas the more apolar bile acids were significantly decreased. No changes in liver function tests or bile acid metabolism were found in the untreated group.Since CA and UDCA are non-toxic in man, this trial indicates that the apolar bile acids chenodeoxycholic acid and deoxycholic acid may be responsible for the deterioration of liver function in primary biliary cirrhosis. However, the therapeutic effect of UDCA cannot be explained merely by the decrease in α-dihydroxy-bile acids in the serum, since the laboratory results had improved prior to the decrease in the serum apolar bile acids.