Update on Bile Acid Malabsorption: Finally Ready for Prime Time?

  • Priya Vijayvargiya
  • Michael Camilleri
Large Intestine (B Cash, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Large Intestine


Purpose of Review

To provide an update on the prevalence, pathophysiology, disease associations, and treatment options for bile acid malabsorption (BAM).

Recent Findings

•Molecular mechanisms—BAs prevent water reabsorption and increase water secretion by intracellular mediators, increasing aquaporin channels and intracellular permeability. •Inflammatory bowel disease—new molecular mechanisms of BAM are identified in patients without ileal disease, including changes in expression of ileal BA transporter and nuclear receptors involved in BA homeostasis. •Microscopic colitis—BAM is one of the mechanisms leading to microscopic colitis. •Diagnostic testing—new diagnostic tests have been launched in the USA (serum C4 and fecal 48-h BA excretion); stimulated FGF19 has higher detection of BAM compared to fasting sample alone. •Treatment—investigational FXR agonists may provide a daily, oral option for treatment of BAM instead of BA sequestrants.


There is a greater appreciation of the biological role of bile acids across multiple fields of medicine, including gastrointestinal indications.


Bile acid malabsorption Microscopic colitis Inflammatory bowel disease Colonic mechanisms Fibroblast growth factor FXR agonists 



Apical sodium bile acid transporter


Bile acid


Bile acid malabsorption


Bile acid sequestrants


7 α-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one


Cholic acid


Chenodeoxycholic acid


Deoxycholic acid


Fibroblast growth factor 19


Farsenoid X receptor


G protein coupled bile receptor 1


High amplitude propagating contractions


C—constipation predominanat irritable bowel syndrome


D—diarrhea predominant irritable bowel syndrome


Inflammatory bowel disease


Lithocholic acid


Pregane X receptor


75Selenium homotaurocholic acid test


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Michael Camilleri and Priya Vijayvargiya declare no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Enteric Neuroscience Translational and Epidemiological Research (CENTER), Division of Gastroenterology and HepatologyMayo ClinicRochesterUSA

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