Acute effects of bile acids on the pancreatic duct epithelium in vitro.

The Journal of surgical research

PubMedID: 9536972

Alvarez C, Fasano A, Bass BL. Acute effects of bile acids on the pancreatic duct epithelium in vitro. J Surg Res. 1998;74(1):43-6.
BACKGROUND
Acute pancreatitis is associated with passage of gallstones, although the mechanism(s) linking the two processes remains undefined. Bile reflux into the pancreatic duct could play a role but the experimental conditions often employed to induce pancreatitis rarely develop clinically. Here we examined whether low concentrations of bile affect ductal electrophysiology as an indirect measure of ductal epithelial integrity and function in vitro.

METHODS
The main duct was dissected out of freshly harvested bovine pancreata, cut into 1- x 2-cm sections, placed in tissue culture for 48-72 h, then placed in Ussing chambers. Changes in tissue resistance (Rt) and short-circuit current (Isc) were monitored. The responses to forskolin and bile (taurodeoxycholic acid, TDCA) were examined separately and together.

RESULTS
Forskolin (10 microM) produced a decrease in the Isc without a significant change in Rt, suggesting a secretory response, followed by a return to baseline. TDCA caused a similarly reversible decrease in the Isc at low doses, but a persistent drop at higher concentrations. A concurrent drop in Rt was noted at all TDCA concentrations, the duration of which correlated with dosage and degree of histological damage. Prior exposure to low (0.5 mM) doses of TDCA significantly blunted the response to subsequent forskolin challenge.

CONCLUSIONS
Acute exposure to TDCA in vitro causes epithelial damage at levels lower than those normally used to induce experimental pancreatitis. At the lower concentrations, Rt returns to baseline rapidly, suggesting recovery (restitution) from epithelial damage but with a persistent loss of the response to forskolin. Reflux of minute amounts of bile into the pancreatic duct could play a significant role in the pathogenesis of gallstone pancreatitis by uncoupling the normal stimulus-secretion apparatus of the ductal system and breaking down the epithelial barrier.