JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Effects of ursodeoxycholic acid and aspirin on the formation of lithogenic bile and gallstones during loss of weight

P H Broomfield, R Chopra, R C Sheinbaum, G G Bonorris, A Silverman, L J Schoenfield, J W Marks
New England Journal of Medicine 1988 December 15, 319 (24): 1567-72
3200265
We attempted to determine whether the administration of aspirin or ursodeoxycholic acid during loss of weight could prevent the development of lithogenic changes in bile and the formation of gallstones. Sixty-eight obese subjects without gallstones who were entered in a program (520 kcal per day) to lose weight were randomly assigned to receive ursodeoxycholic acid (1200 mg per day), aspirin (1300 mg per day), or placebo in double-blind fashion for up to 16 weeks. At entry, at four weeks of treatment, and at three weeks after the completion of treatment, the subjects underwent ultrasonography to detect gallstones and duodenal drainage of bile to detect cholesterol crystals and to determine the bile saturation index and glycoprotein concentration. No gallstones or cholesterol crystals formed in the patients treated with ursodeoxycholic acid. Among the patients given placebo, gallstones formed in five (P less than 0.05 vs. ursodeoxycholic acid) and cholesterol crystals in six (P less than 0.001 vs. ursodeoxycholic acid); among those given aspirin, gallstones formed in two and cholesterol crystals in one (no significant difference from ursodeoxycholic acid treatment). By the fourth week, the bile saturation index increased in the placebo group (from 1.07 +/- 0.26 to 1.29 +/- 0.27; P less than 0.001), decreased in the ursodeoxycholic acid group (from 1.11 +/- 0.34 to 0.91 +/- 0.24; P less than 0.001), and did not change significantly in the aspirin group. The concentration of glycoprotein in bile increased in the placebo group (27.9 +/- 14.5 percent; P less than 0.001) but did not change significantly in the groups treated with ursodeoxycholic acid or aspirin. We conclude that ursodeoxycholic acid prevents lithogenic changes in bile and the formation of gallstones in obese subjects during loss of weight.

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