Evaluation and clinical application of the Enterotest for the determination of human biliary porphyrin composition

Eur J Clin Chem Clin Biochem. 1995 Jul;33(7):453-62.


The Enterotest string test is an easy and non-invasive method for sampling duodenal fluid, which has been successfully used for the analysis of duodenal microflora, as well as biliary bile acid and lipid composition. The method was evaluated for determination of porphyrins in duodenal bile in normal subjects and subjects with porphyria, following cholecystokinin induced gall bladder contraction; it is known that analysis of biliary porphyrins is more discriminatory for the diagnosis of asymptomatic porphyria than their analysis in faeces or urine. Moreover, serial analysis of bile from patients with erythropoietic protoporphyria may help in establishing their ability to secrete protoporphyrin in bile and to assess effects of treatment. The binding of various porphyrins to Enterotest strings was investigated by incubating pieces of the string in different human bile samples with low to very high porphyrin concentrations, followed by HPLC analysis of porphyrins both in the native bile and in extracts obtained from the strings. No differences between porphyrin composition in native bile and extracts were observed. Duodenal fluid obtained by means of the Enterotest from volunteers not receiving cholecystokinin showed large variations in porphyrin patterns not resembling those of native bile. Mesoporphyrin, a secondary porphyrin derived from protoporphyrin by bacteria, was often detectable. These data indicate that the duodenal content without cholecystokinin injection does not reflect biliary porphyrin composition. The presence of mesoporphyrin in the whole intestinal tract, but not in serum and bile, suggests that there is no enterohepatic circulation of secondary porphyrins. There was close agreement between the porphyrin ratios found with the standard duodenal intubation technique and the Enterotest, performed simultaneously in one healthy volunteer after induction of gall bladder contraction by cholecystokinin. From these experiments, it was concluded that fluid adsorbed to the Enterotest string after gall-bladder contraction can be used to determine biliary porphyrin composition. Since duodenal bile is diluted gall bladder bile, variable porphyrin concentrations were found when applying the Enterotest in combination with cholecystokinin in the same subject on successive days. However, porphyrin ratios, such as the protoporphyrin to coproporphyrin I ratio, were relatively constant. In subjects with symptomatic variegate porphyria, the Enterotest showed highly aberrant porphyrin patterns, with increased protoporphyrin to coproporphyrin I ratios and, in addition, the presence of some unknown porphyrins. A deviating biliary protoporphyrin/coproporphyrin I ratio in one patient appeared to be a useful diagnostic index for the presence of latent variegate porphyria (or variegate porphyria in remission).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bile / chemistry*
  • Bile / metabolism
  • Bile Acids and Salts / analysis*
  • Cholecystokinin / pharmacology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Duodenum / microbiology
  • Duodenum / physiology
  • Duodenum / physiopathology
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Gallbladder / drug effects
  • Gallbladder / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / chemistry
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Porphyria, Erythropoietic / physiopathology*
  • Porphyria, Erythropoietic / surgery
  • Porphyrias, Hepatic / diagnosis
  • Porphyrias, Hepatic / physiopathology*
  • Porphyrins / analysis*
  • Porphyrins / urine
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Reference Values


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Porphyrins
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Cholecystokinin