In contrast to adults, calcium carbonate gallstones are relatively common in children. Their pathogenesis is poorly understood. Cystic duct obstruction promotes calcium carbonate formation in bile and increases gallbladder mucin production. We tested the hypothesis that mucin producing epithelial cells would be increased in gallbladders of children with calcium carbonate gallstones. Archival gallbladder specimens from 20 consecutive children who had undergone elective cholecystectomy for cholelithiasis were examined. In each case, gallstone composition was determined by Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy. Gallbladder specimens from six children who had undergone cholecystectomy for conditions other than cholelithiasis during the same period were used as controls. Multiple sections were examined in a blinded fashion and scored semiquantitatively for mucin production using two stains (alcian blue and periodic acid-Schiff). Increased mucin staining was observed in 50% or more epithelial cells in five gallbladder specimens from seven children with calcium carbonate stones, compared to 5 of 13 with other stone types (P = 0.17) and none of the control gallbladders (P = 0.02). Gallbladders containing calcium carbonate stones were significantly more likely than those containing other stone types or controls to contain epithelial cells with the greatest mucin content (P = 0.03). Gallbladders containing calcium carbonate stones were also more likely to show the ulcer-associated cell lineage. These results demonstrate an increase in mucin producing epithelial cells in gallbladders from children containing calcium carbonate stones. This supports the hypothesis that cystic duct obstruction leading to increased gallbladder mucin production may play a role in the development of calcium carbonate gallstones in children.
- Calcium carbonate
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health