The biliary HCO(3)(-) umbrella: a unifying hypothesis on pathogenetic and therapeutic aspects of fibrosing cholangiopathies.

Ulrich Beuers, Simon Hohenester, Lucas J.Maillette de Buy Wenniger, Andreas E. Kremer, Peter L.M. Jansen, Ronald P.J.Oude Elferink

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

294 Citations (Scopus)


This review focuses on the hypothesis that biliary HCO(3)(-) secretion in humans serves to maintain an alkaline pH near the apical surface of hepatocytes and cholangiocytes to prevent the uncontrolled membrane permeation of protonated glycine-conjugated bile acids. Functional impairment of this biliary HCO(3)(-) umbrella or its regulation may lead to enhanced vulnerability of cholangiocytes and periportal hepatocytes toward the attack of apolar hydrophobic bile acids. An intact interplay of hepatocellular and cholangiocellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) secretion, ATP/P2Y- and bile salt/TGR5-mediated Cl(-)/ HCO(3)(-) exchange and HCO(3)(-) secretion, and alkaline phosphatase-mediated ATP breakdown may guarantee a stable biliary HCO(3)(-) umbrella under physiological conditions. Genetic and acquired functional defects leading to destabilization of the biliary HCO(3)(-) umbrella may contribute to development and progression of various forms of fibrosing/sclerosing cholangitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1489-1496
Number of pages8
JournalHepatology (Baltimore, Md.)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010

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