Bile Acid Synthesis Disorders

A treatable form of a potentially fatal liver disease1

Bile acid synthesis disorders due to single enzyme defects are a rare group of inherited genetic disorders caused by defects in the enzymes that make bile acids.1 These defects interfere with normal production of bile acids. As a result, bile cannot flow from the liver to the small intestine, a condition called cholestasis that presents as prolonged jaundice in newborns.2 Cholestasis occurs in about 1 in 2500 live births.2 Bile acid synthesis disorders account for approximately 1%-3% percent of cholestatic jaundice cases.2-5

What leads to an inability to make bile acids?

A mutation (change in DNA) in any of the genes responsible for making the enzymes necessary for normal production of bile acids leads to a buildup of abnormal bile acids,1,2 which may be toxic to the liver. If left untreated, buildup of toxic bile acids may result in progressive liver disease.1,6

Mutation change

The role of bile acids

What are bile acids and why are they important?

One of the primary functions of the liver is to produce bile and bile acids. Bile is a fluid that contains water, certain minerals, and other materials including bile salts, lipids, cholesterol, and an orange-yellow pigment (bilirubin). Bile helps with digestion and absorption of dietary fats, vitamins, and other nutrients and in the elimination of excess cholesterol, bilirubin, waste, and toxins from the body.6,7

Bile acids and bile salts are the key digestive components of bile. Cholic acid (KOE-lik AS-id) and chenodeoxycholic acid (KEE-noe-dee-OX-i-KOL-ik AS-id) are the primary bile acids produced by the liver.6 They enable the liver to work normally by6,8

  • Promoting bile flow
  • Assisting with absorption of the fats and vitamins from the food we eat
  • Eliminating cholesterol from the body

Abnormal bile flow and bile production often result in malabsorption of vital nutrients and the accumulation of toxic materials in the body.1,6

Cholestasis presents as jaundice in infants

1. Setchell KDR. Adolf Windaus Prize Lecture 2004. Defects in bile acid synthesis—specific and treatable causes of metabolic liver disease. In: Paumgartner G et al, eds. Bile Acid Biology and Its Therapeutic Implications. Proceedings of the Falk Symposium 141 (XVIII Internationale Bile Acid Meeting) held in Stockholm, Sweden, June 18-19, 2004. Netherlands: Springer; 2005:1-15.  2. Fischler B, Lamireau T. Cholestasis in the newborn and infant. Clin Res Hepatol Gastroenterol. 2014;38:263-267.  3. Bove KE, Heubi JE, Balistreri WF, Setchell KD. Bile acid synthetic defects and liver disease: a comprehensive review. Pediatr Dev Pathol. 2004;7:315-334.  4. Sundaram SS, Bove KE, Lovell MA, Sokol RJ. Mechanisms of Disease: inborn errors of bile acid synthesis. Nat Clin Pract Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008;5(8):456-468.  5. Lu FT, Wu JF, Hsu HY, et al. γ-Glutamyl transpeptidase level as a screening marker among diverse etiologies of infantile intrahepatic cholestasis. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2014;59:695-701.  6. Heubi JE, Setchell K, Bove KE. Inborn errors of bile acid metabolism. Semin Liver Dis. 2007;27(3):282-294.  7. PubMed Health. How does the gallbladder work? Updated November 7, 2012. Accessed January 8, 2016.  8. CHOLBAM® (cholic acid) capsules, for oral use [prescribing information]. San Diego, CA: Retrophin, Inc.; March 2015.

Indication and Usage
CHOLBAM® is a bile acid indicated for:

  • Treatment of bile acid synthesis disorders due to single enzyme defects
  • Adjunctive treatment of peroxisomal disorders including Zellweger spectrum disorders in patients who show signs and symptoms of liver disease, steatorrhea (fatty stools), or complications from decreased fat soluble vitamins absorption (A, D, E, K)

Limitation of Use:
The safety and effectiveness of CHOLBAM® on extrahepatic manifestations of bile acid synthesis disorders due to single enzyme defects or peroxisomal disorder including Zellweger spectrum disorders have not been established.

Important Safety Information
Warnings and Precautions—Exacerbation of Liver Impairment

  • Monitor liver function and discontinue CHOLBAM® (cholic acid) in patients who develop worsening of liver function while on treatment.
  • Monitor AST, ALT, GGT, alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin, and international normalized ratio (INR) every month for the first 3 months, every 3 months for the next 9 months, every 6 months during the next 3 years and annually thereafter. Administer the lowest dose that effectively maintains liver function.
  • Discontinue CHOLBAM® if liver function does not improve within 3 months of starting treatment, if complete biliary obstruction develops, or if there are persistent clinical or laboratory indicators of worsening liver function or cholestasis; continue to monitor liver function and consider restarting at a lower dose when parameters return to baseline.

Adverse Reactions
In the CHOLBAM® clinical trials, diarrhea was the most common adverse reaction in approximately 2% of the patient population. All other adverse reactions are less than or equal to 1% of the patient population.

Drug Interaction

  • Bile Salt Efflux Pump (BSEP) Inhibitors (eg, cyclosporine): Avoid concomitant use; if concomitant use is necessary, monitor serum transaminases and bilirubin.
  • Bile Acid Resins and Aluminum-Based Antacids: Take CHOLBAM® at least 1 hour before or 4 to 6 hours (or at as great an interval as possible) after a bile acid binding resin or aluminum-based antacids.

No studies in pregnant women or animal reproduction studies have been conducted with CHOLBAM®. Women who become pregnant during CHOLBAM® treatment are encouraged to call 1-844-202-6262.

Endogenous cholic acid is present in human milk. Clinical lactation studies have not been conducted to assess the presence of CHOLBAM® in human milk, the effects of CHOLBAM® on the breastfed infant, or the effects of CHOLBAM® on milk production.

There are no animal lactation data and no data from case reports available in the published literature.

In the event of overdose (elevated GGT and ALT), the patient should be monitored and treated symptomatically.

Elevated serum gamma glutamyltransferase (GGT) and serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) may indicate CHOLBAM® overdose. Continue to monitor laboratory parameters of liver function and consider restarting at a lower dose when the parameters return to baseline.

Please see full prescribing information for CHOLBAM® (cholic acid) 50 mg and 250 mg capsules.

To report SUSPECTED ADVERSE REACTIONS, contact Retrophin, Inc. at 1-877-659-5518 or FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or