Pigment stones of high calcium content were induced in male hamsters of the Harlan Sprague-Dawley strain fed a nutritionally adequate semipurified diet for a period of 14 weeks. The diet contained moderate amounts of cholesterol (0.30 percent) and ethinyl estradiol (15 μg/day per animal). At sacrifice, the incidence of pigment stones was 50 percent. When stones were present, they were in the form of numerous black amorphous rods about 0.1 to 0.4 mm in length. Infrared analysis of the dried stones indicated the following composition: calcium phosphate 26.7 percent, calcium bilirubinate 12.8 percent, cholesterol 15.1 percent, and protein 45.4 percent. Pigment stones were associated with an elevated biliary total calcium level (probably induced by the dietary cholesterol) and a paradoxic decrease in the biliary total bilirubin level. The lithogenic diet produced marked elevations in liver and plasma cholesterol levels and cholesterol saturation of bile, but no cholesterol crystals or stones were observed. The accumulation of elevated levels of cholesterol in the livers of the experimental animals produced mild to moderate hepatotoxicity. The precise mechanism of the dietary induction of pigment stones in this hamster model remains to be elucidated.
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