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Abstract

The aim of the present study was to elucidate the mechanisms of development of cholesterol crystals and gallstones during weight reduction in obese subjects. Twenty-five morbidly obese, gallstone-free subjects underwent vertical-banded gastroplasty. Gallbladder bile was collected at the time of the operation via needle aspiration and 1.1–7.3 months after the operation via ultrasound-guided transhepatic puncture of the gallbladder. The mean weight loss was 17 kg. Two patients developed gallstones and 10 patients displayed cholesterol crystals in their bile. In patients with a follow-up time of less than 2 months (n = 13), cholesterol saturation increased from 90% to 114% but tended to decrease in the patients with a follow-up time of more than 2 months. The extraction of the concanavalin-A–binding fraction from gallbladder bile obtained after weight reduction in 7 patients prolonged crystallization detection time from 6 to 10 days. The hexosamine concentration, a marker for mucin, was increased by about 100% in bile obtained in 6 of 7 patients after weight reduction. In conclusion, the results indicate that crystallization-promoting compounds (mucin) are of great importance in the development of cholesterol crystals and gallstones in obese subjects during weight reduction, probably because of defective gallbladder emptying. (HEPATOLOGY 2005.)