Estrogens, oral contraceptives, and clofibrate (and perhaps other lipid-lowering drugs) increase hepatic cholesterol secretion and encourage cholesterol gallstone formation and hence may counteract the effectiveness of ursodiol.
Available published data on the use of ursodiol in pregnant women derived from randomized controlled trials, observational studies, and case series collected over several decades have not identified a drug-associated risk of major birth defects, miscarriage, or other adverse maternal or fetal outcomes. Most of the reported exposures to ursodiol occurred in the second and third trimester of pregnancy. In animal reproduction studies, ursodiol had no adverse effects on embryo-fetal development when administered at doses greater than human therapeutic doses (see Data).
The estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated population is unknown. All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defect, loss, or other adverse outcomes. In the U.S. general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in the clinically recognized pregnancies is 2 to 4% and 15 to 20%, respectively.
No adverse effects on embryo-fetal development were observed with oral administration of ursodiol to pregnant rats and rabbits during organogenesis at doses up to 22 and 7 times, respectively, the maximum recommended human dose (based on body surface area).
Ursodiol is naturally present in human milk. There are no reports of adverse effects of ursodiol on the breastfed child, but the reports are extremely limited. There are no data on the effects of ursodiol on milk production. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for ursodiol and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed child from ursodiol or from the underlying maternal condition.
There have been no reports of accidental or intentional overdosage with ursodiol. Single oral doses of ursodiol at 10 g/kg in mice and dogs, and 5 g/kg in rats were not lethal. A single oral dose of ursodiol at 1.5 g/kg was lethal in hamsters. Symptoms of acute toxicity were salivation and vomiting in dogs, and ataxia, dyspnea, ptosis, agonal convulsions and coma in hamsters.
Ursodiol 250 mg is available as a film-coated tablet for oral administration. Ursodiol 500 mg is available as a scored film-coated tablet for oral administration. Ursodiol (ursodeoxycholic acid, UDCA) is a naturally occurring bile acid found in small quantities in normal human bile and in larger quantities in the biles of certain species of bears. It is a bitter-tasting white powder consisting of crystalline particles freely soluble in ethanol and glacial acetic acid, slightly soluble in chloroform, sparingly soluble in ether, and practically insoluble in water. The chemical name of ursodiol is 3α,7ß-dihydroxy-5ß-cholan-24-oic (C24 H40 O4 ). Ursodiol has a molecular weight of 392.56. Its structure is shown below.
Inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, povidone, polyethylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium starch glycolate. The inert ingredients in film coating material are: hypromellose, polyethylene glycol, titanium dioxide.
Ursodiol, a naturally occurring hydrophilic bile acid, derived from cholesterol, is present as a minor fraction of the total human bile acid pool. Oral administration of ursodiol increases this fraction in a dose related manner, to become the major biliary acid, replacing/displacing toxic concentrations of endogenous hydrophobic bile acids that tend to accumulate in cholestatic liver disease. In addition to the replacement and displacement of toxic bile acids, other mechanisms of action include cytoprotection of the injured bile duct epithelial cells (cholangiocytes) against toxic effects of bile acids, inhibition of apotosis of hepatocytes, immunomodulatory effects, and stimulation of bile secretion by hepatocytes and cholangiocytes.
Lithocholic acid, when administered chronically to animals, causes cholestatic liver injury that may lead to death from liver failure in certain species unable to form sulfate conjugates. Ursodiol is 7-dehydroxylated more slowly than chenodiol. For equimolar doses of ursodiol and chenodiol, steady state levels of lithocholic acid in biliary bile acids are lower during ursodiol administration than with chenodiol administration. Humans and chimpanzees can sulfate lithocholic acid. Although liver injury has not been associated with ursodiol therapy, a reduced capacity to sulfate may exist in some individuals.
Ursodiol (UDCA) is normally present as a minor fraction of the total bile acids in humans (about 5%). Following oral administration, the majority of ursodiol is absorbed by passive diffusion and its absorption is incomplete. Once absorbed, ursodiol undergoes hepatic extraction to the extent of about 50% in the absence of liver disease. As the severity of liver disease increases, the extent of extraction decreases. In the liver, ursodiol is conjugated with glycine or taurine, then secreted into bile. These conjugates of ursodiol are absorbed in the small intestine by passive and active mechanisms. The conjugates can also be deconjugated in the ileum by intestinal enzymes, leading to the formation of free ursodiol that can be reabsorbed and reconjugated in the liver. Nonabsorbed ursodiol passes into the colon where it is mostly 7-dehydroxylated to lithocholic acid. Some ursodiol is epimerized to chenodiol (CDCA) via a 7-oxo intermediate. Chenodiol also undergoes 7-dehydroxylation to form lithocholic acid. These metabolites are poorly soluble and excreted in the feces. A small portion of lithocholic acid is reabsorbed, conjugated in the liver with glycine, or taurine and sulfated at the 3 position. The resulting sulfated lithocholic acid conjugates are excreted in bile and then lost in feces. In healthy subjects, at least 70% of ursodiol (unconjugated) is bound to plasma protein. No information is available on the binding of conjugated ursodiol to plasma protein in healthy subjects or PBC patients. Its volume of distribution has not been determined, but is expected to be small since the drug is mostly distributed in the bile and small intestine. Ursodiol is excreted primarily in the feces. With treatment, urinary excretion increases, but remains less than 1% except in severe cholestatic liver disease.
During chronic administration of ursodiol, it becomes a major biliary and plasma bile acid. At a chronic dose of 13 to 15 mg/kg/day, ursodiol constitutes 30-50% of biliary and plasma bile acids.
In two 24-month oral carcinogenicity studies in mice, ursodiol at doses up to 1,000 mg/kg/day (3,000 mg/m2 /day) was not tumorigenic. Based on body surface area, for a 50 kg person of average height (1.46 m2 body surface area), this dose represents 5.4 times the recommended maximum clinical dose of 15 mg/kg/day (555 mg/m2 /day).
In a two-year oral carcinogenicity study in Fischer 344 rats, ursodiol at doses up to 300 mg/kg/day (1,800 mg/m2 /day, 3.2 times the recommended maximum human dose based on body surface area) was not tumorigenic.
In a life-span (126-138 weeks) oral carcinogenicity study, Sprague-Dawley rats were treated with doses of 33 to 300 mg/kg/day, 0.4 to 3.2 times the recommended maximum human dose based on body surface area. Ursodiol produced a significantly (p <0.5, Fisher’s exact test) increased incidence of pheochromocytomas of the adrenal medulla in females of the highest dose group.
In 103-week oral carcinogenicity studies of lithocholic acid, a metabolite of ursodiol, doses up to 250 mg/kg/day in mice and 500 mg/kg/day in rats did not produce any tumors. In a 78-week rat study, intrarectal instillation of lithocholic acid (1 mg/kg/day) for 13 months did not produce colorectal tumors. A tumor-promoting effect was observed when it was administered after a single intrarectal dose of a known carcinogen N-methyl-N’-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine. On the other hand, in a 32-week rat study, ursodiol at a daily dose of 240 mg/kg (1,440 mg/m2 , 2.6 times the maximum recommended human dose based on body surface area) suppressed the colonic carcinogenic effect of another known carcinogen azoxymethane.
Ursodiol was not genotoxic in the Ames test, the mouse lymphoma cell (L5178Y, TK+/-) forward mutation test, the human lymphocyte sister chromatid exchange test, the mouse spermatogonia chromosome aberration test, the Chinese hamster micronucleus test and the Chinese hamster bone marrow cell chromosome aberration test.
Ursodiol at oral doses of up to 2,700 mg/kg/day (16,200 mg/m2 /day, 29 times the recommended maximum human dose based on body surface area) was found to have no effect on fertility and reproductive performance of male and female rats.
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