Liver and intrahepatic bile ducts - nontumor

Author: Komal Arora, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 9 November 2017, last major update May 2012

Copyright: (c) 2002-2017,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Jaundice[TI] physiology[TIAB]

Table of Contents
Definition / general | Causes
Cite this page: Arora, K. Physiology. website. Accessed March 20th, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Total bilirubin > 2.0 mg/dl (normal is 0.3 to 1.2 mg/dl)
  • Conjugated bilirubin (produced by normal liver) is water soluble, nontoxic, loosely bound to albumin; can be excreted in urine
  • Unconjugated bilirubin and bilirubin glucuronides are insoluble in water and tightly complexed to albumin; cannot be excreted in urine despite high levels due to insolubility; may diffuse into tissues and produce toxic brain injury
  • Hemolytic disease of newborn (erythroblastosis fetalis) causes severe neurologic damage (kernicterus) due to accumulation of unconjugated bilirubin
  • Excessive production of bilirubin that overwhelms livers conjugating capacity, reduced hepatocyte uptake of bilirubin, other causes of impaired conjugation, decreased hepatocyte excretion of bilirubin, impaired bile flow (intra or extrahepatic)