OBJECTIVE: Total serum bile acid concentrations are elevated in individuals with liver disease. Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) therapy in such patients results in a further significant rise in plasma levels to the extent that it becomes the major circulating bile acid. In laboratory animals, bile acids, such as taurocholic acid, have also been shown to possess a diuretic- like action, as they can promote diuresis, natriuresis, and kaliuresis by inhibiting tubular sodium reabsorption. The aim of the present study was to assess the effect of 1 month's UDCA therapy on cardiovascular function in cirrhotic patients. METHODS: Two groups of patients with cirrhosis were studied, six with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and six with postnecrotic liver cirrhosis (PNC). Cardiovascular function was assessed by determination of blood pressure, heart rate, and by two-dimensional and pulsed Doppler echocardiography. RESULTS: In PBC patients, 1 month's treatment with UDCA significantly reduced diastolic volume without changing systolic, diastolic, and mean blood pressures, heart rate, systolic and stroke volumes, ejection fraction, cardiac output, and systemic vascular resistance. In PNC patients, UDCA significantly reduced cardiac output, with a tendency to reduce left ventricular volumes, without any changes in systolic, diastolic, and mean blood pressures. CONCLUSIONS: UDCA caused reductions in diastolic volume in the PBC patients and cardiac output in the PNC patients. Such reductions are not unlike that seen in individuals treated with diuretics. This diuretic- like action deserves further study, particularly in cirrhotic patients who are also being treated with diuretics or show evidence of cardiac myopathy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas