Semin Liver Dis 2007; 27(1): 109-121
DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-960174
Copyright © 2007 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Genetic Predisposition to Gallbladder Stones

Henning Wittenburg1 , Frank Lammert2
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine II, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
12 February 2007 (online)


Geographic and ethnic differences in gallstone prevalence rates and familial clustering of cholelithiasis imply that genetic factors influence the risk of gallstone formation. Recently, twin, family, and linkage studies confirmed a genetic predisposition to the development of symptomatic gallstones. In rare instances, mutations in single genes confer a substantial risk for the formation of gallstones. However, in the majority of cases gallstones might develop as a result of lithogenic polymorphisms in several genes and their interactions with multiple environmental factors, rendering gallstones generally a complex genetic disorder. Some of the rare monogenic forms of cholelithiasis were unraveled but the lithogenic genes that increase the susceptibility to cholelithiasis in the majority of gallstone carriers remain elusive. Identification of these lithogenic genes will provide novel means of risk assessment, strategies for prevention, and targets for nonsurgical management of cholelithiasis, which currently is one of the most expensive digestive disorders.


Henning Wittenburg, M.D. 

Department of Internal Medicine II, University of Leipzig

Philipp-Rosenthal-Str. 27, 04103 Leipzig, Germany