Site Editor



Circulating Plasma Bile Acids: Potential Biomarker for Cholangiocarcinoma?

By: Jenna Carter, PhD
Posted: Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Understanding the complexity of cholangiocarcinoma is key to reveal the intricate network of molecular mechanisms responsible for its widespread effects. An article published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences reported that bile acids have received recent interest because of their potential involvement in cancer development and progression; however, their role in cholangiocarcinoma is not well understood. Giuseppe Lippi, MD, of the University of Verona, Italy, and colleagues performed a case control study to characterize the profile of circulating bile acids in patients with cholangiocarcinoma. They found the total concentration of bile acids was higher in patients with cholangiocarcinoma compared with benign biliary disease controls.

“[Bile acids] are amphiphilic molecules and…are synthesized in the liver…and then secreted into the bile duct and duodenum…. To date, only a few studies have attempted to characterize the [bile acids] profiles in plasma or serum…, providing discrepant results,” stated Dr. Lippi and colleagues.

The study comprised 110 patients with benign biliary disease (n = 42) and cholangiocarcinoma (n = 68), enrolled between September 2020 and December 2021 at the Division of General and Hepatobiliary Surgery of the University Hospital of Verona. A validated liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry technique was used to characterize circulating bile, and multivariate logistic regression models were used to calculate odds ratios [ORs] for cholangiocarcinoma.

Overall findings revealed the total concentration of bile acids was markedly higher in patients with cholangiocarcinoma than in the benign biliary disease controls. There was also an accompanied shift in bile acid profile toward a higher proportion of primary conjugated bile acids (OR = 1.50, confidence interval [CI] = 1.14–1.96, P = .003). The most promising bile acids were then tested in an in vitro setting to investigate their interplay in modulating MUC5AC expression, revealing the important role of circulating bile acids as independent biomarkers for cholangiocarcinoma.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

By continuing to browse this site you permit us and our partners to place identification cookies on your browser and agree to our use of cookies to identify you for marketing. Read our Privacy Policy to learn more.