Infected bile-induced acute pancreatitis in rabbits

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Bacteria species commonly found in bile of patients with choledocholithiasis render human bile toxic to the pancreas. The severity of infected bile-induced acute pancreatitis depends on the bacterial species. Infected bile-induced acute pancreatitis turns into a sterile inflammation within 10 d.


Flow of bile into the pancreatic duct was proposed to cause some forms of gallstone pancreatitis. The development of bile-induced acute pancreatitis at physiologic ductal pressure is known to depend on the bacterial infection of bile. In this study, we investigated the effect of a variety of bacteria species commonly found in bile of patients with choledocholithiasis upon the pancreatic toxicity of human bile. The time-course of pancreatic infection in infected bile-induced acute pancreatitis was also analyzed.


In rabbits, the pancreatic duct was kept obstructed throughout the experiment. After 24 h, 50 μL of pancreatic juice was obtained from the congested pancreatic duct and replaced with the same quantity of infected human bile. Bile contained bacteria (107 microorganisms/μL) of species frequently found in choledochal secretions of patients with gallstone disease. Effects on pancreatic morphology were studied after 48 h. In another experiment, the number of Escherichia coli/mg of pancreatic tissue was determined in a time sequence study following exposure of the rabbit pancreatic duct to 50 μL E. coli-infected bile (107 microorganisms/mL) and temporary (12 h) or permanent duct obstruction.


Sterile bile was not harmful to the pancreas. Infected bile caused an interstitial-edematous pancreatitis with occasional acinar necrosis. The severity of acute pancreatitis depended on the bacterial species. Following pancreatic duct exposure to E. coli-infected bile, there was complete clearance of the bacteria from the gland with a concomitant interstitial leukocyte infiltration within a period of 2-10 d.

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