The effect of acute metabolic or respiratory acid-base disturbances on biliary bicarbonate secretion was examined in bile fistula rats. Animals were infused with ursodeoxycholate at a rate that stimulates bicarbonate secretion (1 μmole · min−1 · 100 gm−1), in control conditions and during acute acid-base disturbances. Metabolic acidosis or alkalosis were induced by HCl or NaHCO3 infusions, and respiratory acidosis or alkalosis were created respectively by adding CO2 to the inspired gas or by hyperventilation in artificially ventilated animals. Biliary bicarbonate concentration was always higher than plasma bicarbonate concentration. During metabolic disturbances, changing the plasma bicarbonate concentration from 9.2 to 30.2 mM stimulated biliary bicarbonate secretion by 113%. During respiratory disturbances, changing the plasma PCO2 from 25.5 to 59.8 mm Hg also increased biliary bicarbonate secretion by 89%. Biliary bicarbonate output was thus independent of plasma pH. When all animals were considered, bile flow was positively correlated with biliary bicarbonate concentration (r = 0.71, p < 0.001). Acetazolamide significantly decreased ursodeoxycholate-induced bile flow and bicarbonate secretion by 20 and 22%, respectively. These results support the hypothesis that there is a relationship between ursodeoxycholate-induced bicarbonate secretion and bile flow. They are also consistent with the view that ursodeoxycholate-stimulated biliary bicarbonate secretion in the rat is strongly affected by plasma bicarbonate and PCO2, but not by plasma pH, and involves carbonic anhydrase.
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