Jaundice pp 19-38 | Cite as

The Conjugates of Bilirubin

  • Ellen R. Gordon
Part of the Hepatology book series (H, volume 2)


In 1847, over a century ago, Virchow demonstrated that bile pigments arise as a consequence of the metabolism of the porphyrin ring of hemoglobin (1). The end product of this reaction, which occurs in the reticuloendothelial system, and involves the opening of the α methene bridge and release of carbon monoxide, globin and iron, is bilirubin (2). Until 1970, it was generally accepted that bilirubin was secreted in bile conjugated to a glucuronide, even though it had never been isolated as a chemically pure compound (3–5). At that time, this concept was challenged by two groups of investigators (6–12). Their studies indicated that bilirubin was not secreted in bile merely as a simple glucuronide. From dog gallbladder bile Heirwegh and his colleagues isolated and characterized a series of dipyrollic azo-derivatives of bilirubin: an azobilirubin ß-D monoxyloside, an azobilirubin ß-D monoglucoside, and an azobilirubin ß-D monoglucuronide (10–12). However, from human T-tube bile Kuenzle was unable to isolate simple monosaccharide conjugates of bilirubin (7–9). Sophisticated analytical procedures were utilized in both these studies to elucidate the chemical nature of the azoderivatives of bilirubin. Therefore the lack of agreement is rather puzzling.


Sodium Methoxide Bile Pigment Human Bile Hexuronic Acid Bilirubin Glucuronide 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen R. Gordon
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen Mary Veterans HospitalMontrealCanada

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