Bilirubin is a yellow colored pigment that results from the breakdown of red blood cells that takes place in the body. Bilirubin is then transmitted out of the body in the form of bile, which is a digestive agent or urine. Bilirubin is responsible for the color of bile as well as for the yellow color of urine. Bilirubin is a result of the metabolism process that breaks down the red blood cells. This process breaks down old red blood cells and the components of the cells are passed out of the body in various ways.
Some amount of bilirubin does exist in the blood. Testing the level of serum bilirubin can give an accurate assumption on the functioning of the liver. In a healthy person, the liver is supposed to take up the bilirubin and send it out through the bile. When there is a failure or drop in the functioning of the liver, the bilirubin concentration in the blood tends to rise.
The liver may also be prevented from doing its job of making the bilirubin water soluble so that it passes out of the body. This might occur as a result of drug abuse or might be a side effect of some medication that is hampering the normal functioning of the liver. There is a particular enzyme that is present in the body called glucuronyl transferase. This enzyme may be lacking in a person who has an elevated level of serum bilirubin. This enzyme is used by the liver to process the bilirubin, and a lack of it can be the reason for bilirubin content in the blood being higher than normal.
The liver processes bilirubin. This means that the bilirubin going into the liver and the one coming out are different types of bilirubin. This is useful from a diagnostic point of view because the test conducted on the blood can confirm the type of bilirubin present and therefore the condition and functioning of the patient’s liver can be assessed.
A high level of serum bilirubin can lead to jaundice. Jaundice is characterized by the yellowing of the sclera which is the white part of the eye. It could also result in the yellowing of the entire skin of the body in a severe case. Patients suffering from jaundice might experience fever, nausea, lack of appetite, body ache, extreme fatigue and an inability to pass motion regularly
Submitted by M T on April 13, 2010 at 11:44