Serum 7 alpha-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one and selenohomocholyltaurine (SeHCAT) whole body retention in the assessment of bile acid induced diarrhoea

Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1996 Feb;8(2):117-23. doi: 10.1097/00042737-199602000-00005.


Objective: To assess the reliability of serum 7 alpha-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one (7 alpha-3ox-C) in the differential diagnosis of bile acid induced diarrhoea by comparison with 75selenohomocholyltaurine whole body retention (SeHCAT WBR).

Design: One hundred and sixty-four patients with chronic diarrhoea were investigated prospectively in two centres (Edinburgh and Sweden) by two different tests which measure bile acid loss or synthesis: the SeHCAT test which measures the 7-day SeHCAT WBR and serum 7 alpha-3ox-C which reflects the rate of bile acid synthesis.

Results: Forty-six patients had SeHCAT WBR of less than 10% (19 with ileal disease or resection, nine with idiopathic bile acid induced diarrhoea and 18 with miscellaneous causes for bile acid induced diarrhoea). All patients with ileal or idiopathic disease showed a favorable response to treatment as did 13 of the miscellaneous group. Serum 7 alpha-3ox-C was raised in all subjects with ileal disease/resection, seven patients with idiopathic disease and all subjects in the miscellaneous group who responded to treatment. Sixteen out of 118 patients with SeHCAT WBR greater than or equal to 10% had raised serum 7 alpha-3ox-C.

Conclusion: The positive predictive value of serum 7 alpha-3ox-C was 74%. The high negative predictive value (98%) of serum 7 alpha-3ox-C indicates the possible use of this test for excluding bile acid malabsorption in this population. All but two subjects who responded to treatment had raised serum 7 alpha-3ox-C concentrations. The possibility that the sensitivity of the test can be improved by repeat testing needs to be further investigated. There was a significant correlation between fractional catabolic rate (FCR) SeHCAT and serum 7 alpha-3ox-C (r = 0.63, P < 0.0001). Further data are required to validate the reference range in women over 70 years of age.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism*
  • Cholestenones / blood*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Diarrhea / diagnosis*
  • Diarrhea / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Selenium Radioisotopes*
  • Taurocholic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Taurocholic Acid / metabolism
  • Whole-Body Counting


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Cholestenones
  • Selenium Radioisotopes
  • 7 alpha-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one
  • Taurocholic Acid
  • 23-seleno-25-homotaurocholic acid
  • Cholesterol