Validity and sensitivity of an intravenous bile acid tolerance test in patients with liver disease

N Engl J Med. 1975 Jun 5;292(23):1209-14. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197506052922303.


A bile acid tolerance test, which measures the plasma disappearance rate of injected cholyglycine by radioimmunoassay, was studied in 36 patients with biopsy-proved chronic liver disease and compared to fasting-state levels of conjugated cholic acid and other conventional liver tests. In 25 patients in whom one or more of the conventional tests for liver disease showed abnormal results, fasting-state levels of conjugated cholic acid were increased in 20, but plasma disappearance of cholyglycine was delayed in all. Of the 11 other patients in whom conventional tests were within normal limits, fasting-state levels of conjugated cholic acid were increased in three of 10, but cholyglycine disappearance was dealyed in nine of 11. The bile acid tolerance test indicated liver disease more sensitively than the fasting-state level of conjugated cholic acid, which, in turn, was more sensitive than other conventional liver tests.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cholic Acids* / blood
  • Chronic Disease
  • Clinical Enzyme Tests
  • Glycocholic Acid* / administration & dosage
  • Glycocholic Acid* / blood
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Liver Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Liver Function Tests / methods*
  • Time Factors


  • Cholic Acids
  • Glycocholic Acid