1. In aqueous solution above pH7 bilirubin-IXalpha 1-O-acylglucuronide rapidly isomerizes to the non-C-1 glucuronides by sequential migration of the bilirubin acyl group from position 1 to positions 2, 3 and 4 of the sugar moiety. The transformations are enhanced by increasing the pH. Compared with the rates at 37 degrees C the transformations are rather slow at 0 degrees C. Virtually complete inhibition is observed at values below pH6. The isomerization at 25 degrees C and pH 7.4 is not affected by the presence in the solutions of a molar excess of human serum albumin. 2. Isomerization in bile kept at 37 degrees C at pH7.7-7.8 is probably non-enzymic, as the rates of change are similar to those observed under comparable conditions for aqueous solutions of glucuronides of bilirubin-1Xalpha and of azodipyrrole. 3. Analysis without delay of normal biles of man and rats collected at 0 degrees C over a maximum period of 10 min shows that the bilirubin-IXalpha mono- and di-glucuronides consist exclusively of the 1-O-acyl isomers. 4. The mixtures of the four positional isomers of bilirubin-IXalpha glucuronide found in freshly collected biles of man and rats with cholestasis probably originate from initially synthesized 1-O-acylglucuronide by the same mechanism of sequential migration as has been observed in aqueous solutions of conjugated bilirubin-IXalpha.

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