Background & aims: Occurrence of hyperbilirubinemia after fasting has been recognized for many years. The pathogenesis of this syndrome is unclear. Although recent studies suggest that increased intestinal deconjugation and reabsorption of bilirubin may play a major role in establishment of hyperbilirubinemia during fasting, other studies have suggested that fasting down-regulates intrinsic hepatocyte transport of bilirubin. The present study was designed to examine this possibility in the isolated perfused rat liver.
Methods: Transport of 3H-bilirubin and 35S-sulfobromophthalein (BSP) was examined in isolated perfused livers from 48-hour fasted or control rats using a multiple indicator dilution technique. Data were analyzed to quantify single-pass extraction (model-independent analysis) and were also fit by computer to the model of Goresky to quantify unidirectional fluxes.
Results: Fasting for 48 hours resulted in an approximately 40% reduction in liver weight but had no effect on model-dependent or model-independent parameters of transport. Despite the fact that the liver was smaller, single-pass extraction of bilirubin and BSP by livers from fasted animals did not differ from control, indicating a greater efficiency at uptake of bilirubin and BSP.
Conclusions: Enhanced enterohepatic circulation of bilirubin, not altered hepatic transport, is a major factor in the pathogenesis of fasting-induced hyperbilirubinemia.