RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
Role of hyperbilirubinemia in the impairment of osteoblast proliferation associated with cholestatic jaundice.
Because the osteoporosis occurring in chronic cholestatic liver disease (CCLD) is associated with decreased bone formation and is reversible by liver transplantation, substances retained in plasma during cholestasis may impair osteoblast function. This hypothesis was tested using a new bioassay that measures plasma mitogenic activity (PMA) for normal human osteoblast-like (hOB) cells. In 29 jaundiced patients, mean PMA was 56.4% (P < 0.001) of that in 29 age- and sex-matched normal subjects, and the decrease in PMA was similar in the 14 with CCLD and the 15 with other causes of jaundice. Bile acids and bilirubin are the two major groups of products retained during cholestasis. The common conjugated bile acids and bilirubin were added to normal human plasma in concentrations simulating those found in patients with CCLD. Various bile salts had no effect on PMA whereas unconjugated bilirubin decreased PMA in a dose-dependent fashion (r = -0.98, P < 0.0001) without affecting cell viability. Relatively selective removal of bilirubin from the plasma by photobleaching normalized the decreased PMA in five jaundiced patients but produced no apparent change in five normal subjects. These data support the hypothesis that hyperbilirubinemia or possibly other photolabile substances impair osteoblast proliferative capacity and thus may play a major role in the pathogenesis of the osteoporosis associated with CCLD.
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