Lith1, a major gene affecting cholesterol gallstone formation among inbred strains of mice

B. Khanuja, Y. C. Cheah, M. Hunt, P. M. Nishina, D. Q.H. Wang, H. W. Chen, J. T. Billheimer, M. C. Carey, B. Paigen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


The prevalence of cholesterol gallstones differs among inbred strains of mice fed a diet containing 15% (wt/wt) dairy fat, 1% (wt/wt) cholesterol, and 0.5% (wt/wt) cholic acid. Strains C57L, SWR, and A were notable for a high prevalence of cholelithiasis; strains C57BL/6, C3H, and SJL had an intermediate prevalence; and strains SM, AKR, and DBA/2 exhibited no cholelithiasis after consuming the diet for 18 weeks. Genetic analysis of the difference in gallstone prevalence rates between strains AKR and C57L was carried out by using the AKXL recombinant inbred strain set and (AKR x C57L)F1 x AKR backcross mice. Susceptibility to gallstone formation was found to be a dominant trait determined by at least two genes. A major gene, named Lith1, mapped to mouse chromosome 2. When examined after 6 weeks on the lithogenic diet, the activity of hepatic 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (EC was downregulated as expected in the gallstone- resistant strains, AKR and SJL, but this enzyme failed to downregulate in C57L and SWR, the gallstone-susceptible strains. This suggests that regulation of the rate-limiting enzyme in cholesterol biosynthesis may be pivotal in determining the occurrence and severity of cholesterol hypersecretion and hence lithogenicity of gallbladder bile. These studies indicate that genetic factors are critical in determining gallstone formation and that the genetic resources of the mouse model may permit these factors to be identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7729-7733
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase
  • atherosclerosis
  • cholelithiasis
  • lipids
  • recombinant inbred strains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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