Changes of the biliary canalicular membrane lipid content can affect membrane fluidity and biliary lipid secretion in rats. The immunosuppressant cyclosporin A is known to cause intrahepatic cholestasis. This study investigated whether cyclosporin A influenced canalicular membrane fluidity by altering membrane phospholipids or transporter expression. In male Sprague–Dawley rats, a bile-duct cannula was inserted to collect bile, and sodium taurocholate was infused (100nmol/min per 100g) for 60min. During steady-state taurocholate infusion, cyclosporin A (20mg/kg) or vehicle was injected intravenously and then bile was collected for 80min. After killing the rats, canalicular membrane vesicles were prepared. Expression of canalicular membrane transporters was assessed by Western blotting and canalicular membrane vesicle fluidity was estimated by fluorescence polarization. Cyclosporin A reduced biliary lipid secretion along with a disproportionate reduction of lipids relative to bile acids. Cyclosporin A significantly decreased canalicular membrane fluidity along with an increase of the cholesterol/phospholipid molar ratio. Only expression of the transporter P-glycoprotein was increased by cyclosporin A. Because canalicular membrane transporter expression was largely unchanged by cyclosporin A despite a marked decrease of biliary lipid secretion, transporter activity may partly depend upon canalicular membrane fluidity.

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