We evaluated the usefulness of recently developed bioluminescence assays for serum bile acids (BA) in the detection and follow-up of experimental liver injury. Liver damage was induced in rats by either D-galactosamine or CC14, and BA were compared to SGPT and aminopyrine breath test (ABT). In severe liver injury, following D-galactosamine administration, all three methods revealed a significant difference from control values. The degree of abnormality was, however, far greater with SGPT and BA than with ABT. In moderate liver injury, induced by CC14, the increase in BA was not significant. Values of SGPT and BA showed a very good correlation (3α1-OH: r = 0.88; 7α1-OH: r = 0.90; 12α1-OH: r = 0.83; p < 0.001 for all correlations). Application of different assays for 3α1-OH, 7α1-OH and 12α1-OH BA allowed us to assess changes in individual BA. A 96-hr follow-up study in D-galactosamine-treated animals showed an increase in BA up to 48 hr and a decrease thereafter. The bioluminescence assays for BA are simple, rapid and require only 10 μl of serum. Thus, these assays may be the method of choice in detecting and monitoring liver injury in small laboratory animals.
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