Ursodeoxycholic acid: A promising therapeutic target for inflammatory bowel diseases?

Keely SJ1, Steer CJ2, Lajczak-McGinley NK3. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2019 Sep 11. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00163.2019. [Epub ahead of print]


Author information

Dept. of Molecular Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Ireland.

Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, VFW Cancer Research Center, Minneapolis, USA.

Molecular Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Ireland.


The secondary bile acid, ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), has long been known to have medicinal properties. As the therapeutically active component of bear bile, it has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese Medicine to treat a range of conditions, while manufactured UDCA has been used for decades in Western medicine to treat cholestatic liver diseases. The beneficial qualities of UDCA are thought to be due to its well-established cytoprotective and anti-inflammatory actions. In addition to its established role in treating liver disease(s), UDCA is now under investigation for numerous conditions associated with inflammation and apoptosis, including neurological, ocular, metabolic, and cardiovascular disorders. Here, we review the growing evidence base from in vitro and in vivo models to suggest that UDCA may also have a role to play in the therapy of inflammatory bowel diseases.

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