Cholesterol metabolism in primary biliary cirrhosis during simvastatin and UDCA administration

M. Del Puppo, M. Galli Kienle, A. Crosignani, M. L. Petroni, B. Amati, M. Zuin, M. Podda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Little is known about the effects of cholesterol-lowering agents in hypercholesterolemic patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). The aim of this study was to compare the changes induced by simvastatin and ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) on cholesterol metabolism in patients with PBC and preserved liver function. Six patients with PBC were administered simvastatin (40 mg/day) for 30 days and, after a washout period of 30 days, ursodeoxycholic acid (600 mg/day) for 30 days. Serum levels of lathosterol, campesterol, 7α-hydroxycholesterol, and 27-hydroxycholesterol were measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. During simvastatin administration, reduction of cholesterol levels (34% in 30 days) was paralleled by the decrease of lathosterol (55%), whereas concentrations of campesterol and of the two hydroxysterols were not substantially modified. During ursodeoxycholic acid administration, a trend toward a decrease of serum cholesterol concentrations was observed after only one year of treatment, and these changes were paralleled by the decrease of campesterol serum levels. Both simvastatin and UDCA were well tolerated, and a reduction of serum liver enzyme levels occurred with the latter. Simvastatin proved to be safe and effective in reducing serum cholesterol levels in patients with PBC by an inhibitory effect on cholesterol synthesis occurring within 24 h.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-441
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • 27-hydroxycholesterol
  • 7α-hydroxycholesterol
  • Bile acid synthesis
  • Dietary sterols
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Lathosterol
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Ursodeoxycholic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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