Comprehensive Analysis of Serum and Fecal Bile Acid Profiles and Interaction with Gut Microbiota in Primary Biliary Cholangitis

Weihua Chen, Yiran Wei, Aizhen Xiong, Yanmei Li, Huida Guan, Qixia Wang, Qi Miao, Zhaolian Bian, Xiao Xiao, Min Lian, Jun Zhang, Bo Li, Qin Cao, Zhuping Fan, Weici Zhang, Dekai Qiu, Jingyuan Fang, M. Eric Gershwin, Li Yang, Ruqi TangXiong Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Accumulation of bile acids (BAs) contributes significantly to the pathogenesis of primary biliary cholangitis (PBC). Here, we sought to systematically characterize the serum and fecal BA profiles and the linkage between BAs and gut microbiota in PBC. The serum and fecal BAs were compared between 65 UDCA treatment-naive PBC and 109 healthy controls using UPLC-MS in cross-sectional study. In a prospective study, a subgroup of patients was enrolled for BA and microbiota analysis before and after UDCA therapy. BA compositions in serum and feces significantly differed between treatment-naive PBC and controls. Particularly, PBC was associated with decreased conversions of conjugated to unconjugated, and primary to secondary BAs, indicating impaired microbial metabolism of BAs. PBC patients at advanced stage exhibited a more abnormal BA profile compared with early-stage patients. UDCA treatment led to a decreased level of taurine-conjugated BAs, thereby reversing the conjugated/unconjugated ratio in PBC. Moreover, the level of secondary BAs such as DCA and conjugated DCA inversely correlated with PBC-enriched gut microbes (e.g., Veillonella, Klebsiella), while positively correlated with control-enriched microbes (e.g., Faecalibacterium, Oscillospira). Microbiota analysis also revealed a significant increase of taurine-metabolizing bacteria Bilophila spp. in patients after UDCA, which was strongly correlated with decreased taurine-conjugated BAs. In addition, serum FGF19 was remarkably increased in treatment-naïve PBC and decreased after UDCA. Our study established specific alterations of BA compositions in serum and feces of PBC, suggesting the potential for using BAs for diagnosis, and highlighting the possibility of modulating BA profile by altering gut microbiota.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Bile acids
  • Gut microbiota
  • Primary biliary cholangitis
  • Ursodeoxycholic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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