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Keywords:

  • hepatoprotection;
  • tauroursodeoxycholic acid;
  • ursodeoxycholic acid.

Abstract Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) and tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) have been suggested as potential treatments for drug-induced cholestasis. It was therefore decided to study the effects of administration of UDCA or TUDCA on individual serum bile acid concentrations, conventional liver tests and associated hepatic ultrastructural changes in ethinylestradiol-treated (EE) rats (5 mg/kg per day). Control rats were treated s.c. with propylene glycol. EE-treated rats were randomly assigned to receive daily i.p. injections of placebo, TUDCA or UDCA. Four rats in each group were treated for 4 consecutive days, and a second four for 14 days. After 4 days of treatment, the serum levels of cholic acid and taurocholic acid were significantly increased in EE-treated rats. None of the conventional liver tests were significantly different among the four groups. After 14 days of treatment the serum levels of cholic acid, chenodeoxycholic acid, glycocholic acid, glycochenodeoxycholic acid, taurocholic acid, taurochenodeoxycholic acid, bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase and gamma glutamyltransferase were significantly raised in EE and EE plus UDCA treated rats. EE plus TUDCA treated rats, however, had no significant changes in these individual serum bile acids or conventional liver tests. The ultrastructure of livers from EE plus TUDCA treated rats was similar to those of controls. On the other hand, EE and EE plus UDCA rats both showed a significant reduction in sinusoidal microvilli. These results show that treatment of rats for 4 days with EE induces significant rises in the serum concentrations of two individual bile acids and that TUDCA protects against this. On treatment over 14 days TUDCA provides protection against changes in several biochemical liver tests as well as ultrastructural hepatoprotection. Treatment with UDCA, however, afforded no such protection.