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Primary bile acid diarrhoea without an ileal carrier defect: quantification of active bile acid transport across the ileal brush border membrane.
  1. A J van Tilburg,
  2. F W de Rooij,
  3. J W van den Berg,
  4. M van Blankenstein
  1. Department of Internal Medicine II, University Hospital Dijkzigt, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


    Unexplained bile acid malabsorption associated with diarrhoea that responds to cholestyramine was first described in 1973 but convincing evidence of the proposed mechanism--a defective active ileal bile acid transport--has never been substantiated. Active bile acid transport was quantified in vitro using brush border membrane vesicles prepared from terminal ileal biopsy specimens from 10 patients who fulfilled the criteria of idiopathic bile acid diarrhoea. They were recruited from 181 patients with bile acid malabsorption of various causes. Transport was quantified as in vitro Na+ dependent bile acid transport (INBAT), expressed as pmol taurocholate/mg brush border membrane protein/15 seconds, and in vitro Na+ dependent bile acid local transport capacity (INBALTC), expressed as pmol taurocholate/g ileal biopsy tissue/15 seconds. The lowest INBAT and INBALTC values in the 10 patients with idiopathic bile acid diarrhoea were well above the 10th centile values of a control group of 132 patients. Both INBAT (mean (range) 88 (30-136)) and INBALTC (158 (85-268)) values were significantly higher in the 10 patients than in the control group (INBAT: mean (range) 63 (1-244), INBALTC: mean (range) 98 (1-408)). Quantification of active ileal bile acid transport in these 10 patients with idiopathic bile acid malabsorption suggests that a genetic (carrier) defect is rare in adults.

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