The effects of sodium cyclobutyrate, a synthetic hydrocholeretic drug, on biliary lipid secretion and on the biliary outputs of several plasma-membrane enzymes were investigated in anaesthetized rats. Administration of a single oral dose of cyclobutyrol (0.72 mmol/kg body wt.) reduced biliary concentration and output of cholesterol and phospholipid. However, bile acid secretion was not significantly modified. This uncoupling effect of lipid secretion remained even when the choleretic response to the drug had ceased. It additionally led to a statistically significant decrease in the cholesterol/bile acid and phospholipid/bile acid molar ratios and in the lithogenic index of the bile. The biliary outputs of the plasma-membrane enzymes alkaline phosphatase and gamma-glutamyltransferase were markedly reduced by the drug. When cyclobutyrol was administered to rats which had been previously fed with a high-cholesterol diet, the effects of cyclobutyrol persisted, but were less marked. Our results demonstrate that the bile acid-independent choleresis induced by cyclobutyrol (related to its pharmacokinetic effect) is accompanied by a pharmacodynamic action that selectively reduces the secretion of biliary lipids. This is due to an uncoupling of the secretion of cholesterol and phospholipids from that of bile acids. Possible explanations for the biliary response to cyclobutyrol are discussed.

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