J Korean Med Sci.  2021 Apr;36(15):e94. 10.3346/jkms.2021.36.e94.

Bile Microbiota in Patients with Pigment Common Bile Duct Stones

  • 1Digestive Disease Center, Department of Internal Medicine, Inha University School of Medicine, Incheon, Korea
  • 2Hecto Innovation Lab., Hecto Co., Ltd., Seoul, Korea


Common bile duct (CBD) stone is one of the most prevalent gastroenterological diseases, but the role played by biliary microbiota in the pathogenesis of CBD stones remains obscure. The aim of this study was to investigate the characteristics of the biliary tract core microbiome and its potential association with the formation of pigment stones.
Twenty-eight patients with biliary obstruction of various causes were enrolled. Thirteen had new-onset pigment CBD stone. Of the remaining 15, four had benign biliary stricture, four had gallbladder cancer, three had pancreatic cancer, 3 had distal CBD cancer, and one had hepatocellular carcinoma. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography was used to collect bile samples for DNA extraction, 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing, and bile microbiota composition analysis.
Proteobacteria (61.7%), Firmicutes (25.1%), Bacteroidetes (5%), Fusobacteria (4.6%), and Actinobacteria (2.6%) were the most dominant phyla in the bile of the 28 study subjects. A comparison between new-onset choledocholithiasis and other causes of biliary obstruction (controls) showed Enterococcus was found to be significantly abundant in the CBD stone group at the genus level (linear discriminant analysis score = 4.38; P = 0.03). However, no other significant compositional difference was observed.
This study demonstrates an abundance of microbiota in bile juice and presents a biliary microbiome composition similar to that of duodenum. The study also shows Enterococcus was significantly abundant in the bile juice of patients with a brown pigment stone than in controls, which suggests Enterococcus may play an important role in the development of pigment stones.


Choledocholithiasis; Microbiota; Enterococcus
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