Background. Obesity is often associated with increased biliary cholesterol secretion resulting in cholesterol gallstone formation. We have previously demonstrated that leptin-deficient C57Bl/6J Lep ob obese mice have abnormal biliary motility and are prone to cholesterol crystal formation. In addition, others have demonstrated that leptin-deficient mice when fed a lithogenic diet for eight weeks are not prone to gallstone formation. However, the biliary lipid and in vivo cholesterol crystal response of homozygous and heterozygous leptin-deficient mice to four weeks on a lithogenic diet has not been studied. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that lithogenic diets influence gallbladder bile composition, serum lipids and cholesterol crystal formation in homozygous and heterozygous leptin-deficient mice compared to normal lean controls. Methods. 319 female lean control mice, 280 heterozygous lep ob obese mice and 117 homozygous lep ob obese mice were studied. Mice were fed either a lithogenic or control non-lithogenic chow diet for four weeks. Gallbladder volumes were measured, and bile was pooled to calculate cholesterol saturation indices. Serum cholesterol, glucose, and leptin levels were determined. Hepatic fat vacuoles were counted, and bile was observed microscopically for cholesterol crystal formation. Results. The lithogenic diet and mouse strain influenced body and liver weights, gallbladder volume, cholesterol crystal formation, serum cholesterol, glucose and leptin levels and hepatic fat vacuole numbers. However, only diet, not strain, altered biliary cholesterol saturation. Conclusion. The association among obesity, leptin, and gallstone formation may be primarily related to altered gallbladder motility and cholesterol crystal formation and only secondarily to biliary cholesterol saturation.
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