Does lipid infusion affect bile composition in humans? Academic Article uri icon


  • A prospective study was performed to investigate the effect of short-term lipid infusion on bile composition and its lithogenicity in humans. The study group comprised 44 patients scheduled for laparotomy. The patients were hospitalized 48 h prior to elective surgery and randomized to be infused with a lipid emulsion of either long chain triglycerides (LCT) or a mixture of medium and long chain triglycerides (MCT/LCT) for 6 h of each 24 h, or with glucose-saline. Bile samples were obtained by puncture of the gallbladder during operation. In non-gallstone patients, both lipids caused an elevation of biliary cholesterol and phospholipids, but this effect was more pronounced and significant (P <0.001) only with the mixture of MCT/LCT emulsion. The fatty acid composition of biliary phospholipids was not affected by either lipid infusion. The Cholesterol Saturation Index increased significantly (P <0.005) with the MCT/LCT emulsion and there was insignificant shortening in the nucleation time. In contrast to patients with cholelithiasis, no effects could be demonstrated on gallbladder bile composition, cholesterol saturation index, nucleation time, or fatty acid composition of phospholipids. The effects of both lipid emulsions on plasma lipids and lipoproteins were similar in all groups. Our results indicate that lipid emulsions containing MCT/LCT induce lithogenic changes in the composition of human bile. We propose that the lack of effect of lipid infusion on bile composition in patients with cholelithiasis may be due to precipitation of excess cholesterol in the gallbladder of cholesterol gallstone patients whose bile is already saturated. These findings imply that patients with cholesterol gallstones cannot be grouped with non-gallstone patients in studies of alterations of bile composition.

publication date

  • December 1, 1996