Bile Acids Blood Test
A Bile Acids Blood Test evaluates the enterohepatic cycle consisting of the biliary system, intestine, portal circulation, and hepatocytes
Total bile acids are metabolized in the liver and can serve as a marker for normal liver function.
Increases in serum bile acids are seen in patients with acute hepatitis, chronic hepatitis, liver sclerosis, and liver cancer.
Bile acids are formed in the liver from cholesterol, conjugated primarily to glycine and taurine, stored and concentrated in the gallbladder, and secreted into the intestine after the ingestion of a meal. In the intestinal lumen, the bile acids serve to emulsify ingested fats and thereby promote digestion. During the absorptive phase of digestion, approximately 90% of the bile acids are reabsorbed.
The efficiency of the hepatic clearance of bile acids from portal blood maintains serum concentrations at low levels in normal persons. An elevated fasting level, due to impaired hepatic clearance, is a sensitive indicator of liver disease. Following meals, serum bile acid levels have been shown to increase only slightly in normal persons, but markedly in patients with various liver diseases, including cirrhosis, hepatitis, cholestasis, portal-vein thrombosis, Budd-Chiari syndrome, cholangitis, Wilson disease, and hemochromatosis. No increase in bile acids will be noted in patients with intestinal malabsorption. Metabolic hepatic disorders involving organic anions (eg, Gilbert disease, Crigler-Najjar syndrome, and Dubin-Johnson syndrome) do not cause abnormal serum bile acid concentrations.
Significant increases in total bile acids in nonfasting pregnant females can aid in the diagnosis of cholestasis. Other factors, such as complete medical history, physical exam, and liver function tests should also be considered.
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