Identifying BAD (bile acid diarrhea) in IBS-D

BC Beinvogl et al. JPGN 2021; 72: 859-865. Markers of Bile Acid Metabolism in Pediatric Diarrhea Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Healthy Controls

Background: Up to ~30% of adults with IBS-D may have bile acid diarrhea (BAD); however, identification has been hampered by cumbersome testing. In the U.S., the most reliable test has been a 48-hr fecal bile acid (FBA) level of >2337 micromol/48 h. Alternatively, blood tests have been used:

  1. 7alpha-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one (C4)–a direct measure of BA production
  2. Fibroblast growth factor-19 (FGF-19)–an indirect measure of ileal BA resorption

This prospective cross-sectional study of adolescents (n=26 and 56 healthy controls) examined these blood tests and 48-h FBA . Key findings:

  • 20% of IBS-D patients had elevated C4 levels based on 90% of serum C4 in healthy controls (HC). Mean value in HC was 12 and mean value in IBS-D was 16; 90th% was 22 in HC.
  • 28% had decreased fasting serum FGF-19 based on 10% of HC. Mean value in HC was 128 pg/mL compared with 93 in IBS-D; 10th% was 45 in HC.
  • There was good correlation between C4 and 48-h FBA and there was an inverse relationship between serum C4 and FGF-19. Mean value for 48-h FBA in HC was 490 micromol/48 h compared with 824 in IBS-D; 90th% was 972 in HC.

The authors argue that a definitive diagnosis of BAD is beneficial compared to empiric use of bile acid sequestrants. They point to studies showing that treatment is more effective in those with known BAD, up to 75% response rate. In addition, the use of empiric treatment “has not been validated as a diagnostic test for BAD.” Furthermore, definitive diagnosis would help with adherence to long-term treatment and avoid drug interactions/side effects in those who are unlikely to respond to treatment.

My take: This study shows that C4 could help identify BAD in IBS-D in adolescents and is in agreement with studies in adults (Mayo Clinic labs does run this test: Mayo Clinic: 7AC4, Bile Acid Synthesis, Serum).

Related blog posts:

Below is a sign from the broadwalk in Hollywood, FL. Watch out if you are eating something!

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