Assessment of serum bile acid profiles as biomarkers of liver injury and liver disease in humans

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© 2018 Luo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. To assess the potential of individual bile acids (IBA) and their profiles as mechanistic biomarkers of liver injury for humans in real world situations, we interrogated samples collected under minimum controlled conditions (ie subjects were not fasted). Total bile acids (TBA) have been considered to be biomarkers of liver injury for decades, and more recently, monitoring of IBA has been proposed for differentiation of variety of etiologies of liver injury. We established a LC-MS/MS methodology to analyze nine IBA, generated reference ranges, and examined effects of age, gender, and ethnicity for each IBA. Furthermore, we evaluated the ability of IBA and their profiles to detect hepatic injury in subjects with a broad range of liver impairments. To date, our study utilized the largest total cohort of samples (N = 645) that were divided into 2 groups, healthy or liver impaired, to evaluate IBA as biomarkers. The TBA serum levels in the Asian ethnic group trended higher when compared to other ethnic groups, and the serum concentrations of IBA, such as glycocholic acid (GCA), glycochenodeoxycholic acid (GCDCA), chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA), and taurochenoxycholic acid (TCDCA) were significantly increased. To our knowledge, this report is the first to describe ethnic differences in serum concentrations of IBAs. In patients with hepatic impairments, with the exception of deoxycholic acid (DCA), the concentrations of IBAs were significantly elevated when compared with healthy subjects. The conjugated bile acids displayed greater differences between healthy subjects and subjects with hepatic impairments than non-conjugated bile acids. Furthermore, the subjects with hepatic impairments exhibited distinct profiles (signatures) of IBAs that clustered subjects according the nature of their liver impairments. Although additional studies are needed, our data suggested that the analysis of IBA has the potential to become useful for differentiation of various forms of liver injury.




Luo, L., Aubrecht, J., Li, D., Warner, R. L., Johnson, K. J., Kenny, J., & Colangelo, J. L. (2018). Assessment of serum bile acid profiles as biomarkers of liver injury and liver disease in humans. PLoS ONE, 13(3).

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