Letter | Published:

Xenobiotic conjugation: a novel role for bile acids

Nature volume 296, pages 462464 (01 April 1982) | Download Citation



The conjugation of foreign compounds with hydrophilic natural products (for example, amino acids, glucuronic acid) represents an important biochemical mechanism of attenuating xenobiotic toxicity and of facilitating excretion of hydrophobic chemicals. Although several conjugation reactions are known1, bile acids have not been implicated previously in the conjugation of xenobiotics. The physiological importance of natural bile acids is based partly on their propensity to conjugate through their carboxyl groups with several amino acids (especially glycine and taurine), thereby creating effective emulsifying agents to aid the digestion of lipids. However, we now report that in several animal species, bile acids form metabolic conjugates through a hydroxyl group with an acidic metabolite of fluvalinate, a pyrethroid insecticide. Conjugates of this acidic metabolite with cholic, taurochenodeoxycholic and taurocholic acids are major secondary metabolites found in excreta of the cow, chicken and rat, respectively, and represent 5–12% of the faecal 14C-labelled residue.

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  1. Department of Biochemistry, Zoecon Corporation, 975 California Avenue, Palo Alto, California 94304, USA

    • Gary B. Quistad
    • , Luana E. Staiger
    •  & David A. Schooley


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