Pigment gallstone patients are believed to have normal biliary lipid excretion. In order to measure this and to better understand cholesterol gallstone formation, the kinetics of biliary lipid excretion were studied in three patients who had been cholecystectomized for pigment gallstones and the results compared to those previously obtained in patients cholecystectomized for cholesterol gallstones. Pigment-stone patients had hyperbolic relationships between cholesterol and phospholipid outputs and bile salt output which were similar to those seen in cholesterol-stone patients. However, pigment-stone patients excreted more cholesterol and phospholipid at high bile salt output but approached those levels more gradually than cholesterol-stone patients. As a result, pigment-stone patients produced bile undersaturated with cholesterol at a lower bile salt output than cholesterolstone patients, and thus they would be less likely to produce supersaturated bile during low bile salt output such as that occurring during an overnight fast. The data suggest that cholesterol-stone patients, in addition to excreting more cholesterol and less bile salts than normals, have a defect in the rate of lipid output in response to decreasing bile salt output.
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