Free radical-mediated damage of the gall bladder epithelium predisposes to the development of both gall bladder inflammation and gallstone formation, which often coexist. Melatonin, a pineal and gut secretory product, due to its antioxidant activity along with its effect on the aging gall bladder myocytes, inhibits gallstone formation. Melatonin reduces the biliary levels of cholesterol by inhibiting cholesterol absorption across the intestinal epithelium and by increasing the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids. The incidence of gallstones is increasing and is expected to rise dramatically with the increase in the longevity and the risk factors such as obesity. The change in the prevalence of cholelithiasis is associated with a proportionate rise in the incidence of cholangiocarcinoma. In an attempt to improve the quality of life of the rapidly increasing aging population, this article reviews up-to-date information on the pathophysiology of the gall bladder function and discusses the development of new therapies with potential good patient compliance and lower cost than the current treatments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas