Open Access
Article
The enterohepatic circulation of bile acids in mammals: form and functions
Alan F Hofmann1
1
Division of Gastroenterology. Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego. La Jolla, California 92093-0063, USA. ahofmann@ucsd.edu
DOI: 10.2741/3399 Volume 14 Issue 7, pp.2584-2598
Published: 01 January 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biliary transport systems, nuclear receptors and liver disease)
Abstract

The features of the enterohepatic circulation of bile acids in mammals are reviewed. Inputs into the circulating bile acids are primary bile acids synthesized from cholesterol in the hepatocyte and secondary bile acids formed by bacterial modification of primary bile acids in the distal intestine. Intestinal conservation of bile acids generates pools of individual bile acids whose relative sizes determine biliary bile acid composition. Efficient hepatic clearance results in low plasma bile acid levels, and virtually no renal excretion. Methods for characterizing the enterohepatic circulation are summarized. Bile acids have numerous physiological functions in the liver, biliary tract, and intestine resulting from their signaling and physicochemical properties.

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Alan F Hofmann. The enterohepatic circulation of bile acids in mammals: form and functions. Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark. 2009. 14(7); 2584-2598.