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Comparison of different bile acid–phospholipid conjugates in acute hepatitis


Wolfgang Stremmel, Department of Internal Medicine IV, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 410, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany. Tel.: 49 6221 56 8705; fax: 49 6221 56 4116; e-mail:


Eur J Clin Invest 2011


Introduction  The bile acid–phospholipid conjugate ursodeoxycholyl lysophosphatidylethanolamide (UDCA-LPE) is a promising novel compound with profound hepatoprotective functions in vitro and in vivo. Because of high costs of LPE synthesis from hydrolysis of phosphatidylethanolamide (PE), costs for UDCA-LPE synthesis for in vivo and human use can become quite high. In this study, we evaluated whether ursodeoxycholyl phosphatidylethanolamide (UDCA-PE), which is more cost-effective, could replace UDCA-LPE in terms of protection from hepatocellular injury.

Materials and methods  Anti-apoptotic and anti-inflammatory properties of UDCA-PE and UDCA-LPE were compared in TNFα/cyclohexamide (CHX)-treated HepG2 cells as well as in a mouse model of d-galactosamine/lipopolysaccharide (Gal/LPS)-induced acute liver injury.

Results  Ursodeoxycholyl lysophosphatidylethanolamide inhibited TNFα/CHX-induced apoptosis in HepG2 cells in a dose-dependent manner and markedly ameliorated Gal/LPS-mediated fulminant hepatitis in mice. In contrast, UDCA-PE showed weaker hepatoprotective functions at low concentrations, and protection was lost at higher dosage. Analysis of hepatic gene expression showed that both conjugates significantly reduced Gal/LPS-mediated expression of chemoattractants, such as monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP1) and RANTES. These inhibitory effects by UDCA-PE were transient while those by UDCA-LPE were sustained in attenuating expression of inflammatory MCP1 and RANTES expression.

Conclusions  Our data underline the superiority of UDCA-LPE compared to UDCA-PE in ameliorating acute liver inflammation. This indicates the significance of the lyso-functional group of bile acid conjugate for optimal hepatoprotection and reduction in inflammation in vivo.