Ursodeoxycholic acid

December 02, 2019
I’m derived from bile acid and can treat bile acid ailments.
What molecule am I?

Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is a secondary bile acid, which means that it is a bacterial metabolite of primary bile acids produced in the liver. It is a C7 epimer of chenodeoxycholic acid, one of the two primary human bile acids.

M. Shoda, a Japanese researcher, first isolated UDCA from bear bile in 1927. (UDCA takes its name from ursus, the Latin word for bear.) Two years later, K. Kaziro, also in Japan, determined its structure.

UDCA has several medical uses, including

  • reducing or preventing gallstones, often in patients who have had bariatric surgery;
  • treating primary biliary cholangitis, an autoimmune liver disease; and
  • improving bile flow in newborns with impaired flow.

UDCA also goes by the generic name ursodiol. It is manufactured from cholic acid (the other primary human bile acid) by Industria Chimica Emiliana (ICE, in Reggio Emilia, Italy). ICE was recently acquired by Advent International, a private equity firm based in Boston.

Ursodeoxycholic acid hazard information

GHS classification*: not a hazardous substance or mixture

*Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. 

Ursodeoxycholic acid fast facts

CAS Reg. No. 128-13-2
Empirical formula C24H40O4
Molar mass 392.56 g/mol
Appearance White crystals or powder
Melting point 203 ºC
Water solubility 20 mg/L
Chemical Abstract Service - a division of ACS

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