Bile acid malabsorption is common in microscopic colitis, irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel disease. We investigated the diagnostic accuracy of 7-alfa-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one and compared it with fibroblast growth factor-19 as biomarkers for bile acid malabsorption.
We enrolled consecutively 109 chronic diarrhea patients with standard laboratory tests, fecal calprotectin, and endoscopy separated into six groups: n = 30 with active inflammatory bowel disease, n = 21 with inflammatory bowel disease in remission reporting >3 bowel movements per day, n = 21 with inflammatory bowel disease after surgery, n = 23 with irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, n = 14 with microscopic colitis and 11 healthy subjects (controls). We defined bile acid malabsorption as >3 bowel movements and lower fibroblast growth factor-19 (<60 pg/ml).
Median levels of 7-alfa-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one in inflammatory bowel disease active were 53.1 ng/ml, inflammatory bowel disease remission were 52.2 ng/ml, inflammatory bowel disease after surgery were 85.7 ng/ml, irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea were 7.5 ng/ml, microscopic colitis were 69.3 ng/ml, and healthy controls were 3.7 ng/ml. We estimate a 7-alfa-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one cutoff of 48.9 ng/ml with 82.6% sensitivity and 84.3% specificity for detecting bile acid malabsorption. Both 7-alfa-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one >48.9 ng/ml and fibroblast growth factor-19 (<60 pg/ml) were found in 52% of the patients, compared with those 8% of patients below this 7-alfa-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one cutoff (P < 0.001). Serum 7-alfa-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one correlated with the number of bowel movements/day (r = −0.709; P < 0.001) and correlated inversely with fibroblast growth factor-19 (r = −0.741; P < 0.001).
Serum 7-alfa-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one above 48.9 ng/ml and fibroblast growth factor-19 below 60 pg/ml identify patients with diarrhea likely attributable to bile acid malabsorption with high diagnostic accuracy and they can be used as screening biomarkers for bile acid malabsorption in microscopic colitis and inflammatory bowel disease.