Bile or gall is a dark green to yellowish brown fluid, produced by the liver of most vertebrates, that aids the digestion of lipids in the small intestine. In humans, bile is produced continuously by the liver (liver bile), and stored and concentrated in the gallbladder. After eating, this stored bile is discharged into the duodenum. The composition of hepatic bile is 97% water, 0.7% bile salts, 0.2% bilirubin, 0.51% fats (cholesterol, fatty acids, and lecithin), and 200 meq/l inorganic salts.
About 400 to 800 ml of bile is produced per day in adult human beings.
Bile or gall acts to some extent as a surfactant, helping to emulsify the lipids in food. Bile salt anions are hydrophilic on one side and hydrophobic on the other side; consequently, they tend to aggregate around droplets of lipids (triglycerides and phospholipids) to form micelles, with the hydrophobic sides towards the fat and hydrophilic sides facing outwards. The hydrophilic sides are negatively charged, and this charge prevents fat droplets coated with bile from re-aggregating into larger fat particles. Ordinarily, the micelles in the duodenum have a diameter around 14–33 μm.
The dispersion of food fat into micelles provides a greatly increased surface area for the action of the enzyme pancreatic lipase, which actually digests the triglycerides, and is able to reach the fatty core through gaps between the bile salts. A triglyceride is broken down into two fatty acids and a monoglyceride, which are absorbed by the villi on the intestine walls. After being transferred across the intestinal membrane, the fatty acids reform into triglycerides (re-esterified), before being absorbed into the lymphatic system through lacteals. Without bile salts, most of the lipids in food would be excreted in faeces, undigested.
Bile tends to be alkali on average. The pH of common duct bile (7.50 to 8.05) is higher than that of the corresponding gallbladder bile (6.80 to 7.65). Bile in the gallbladder becomes more acidic the longer a person goes without eating, though resting slows this fall in pH. As an alkali, it also has the function of neutralizing excess stomach acid before it enters the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine. Bile salts also act as bactericides, destroying many of the microbes that may be present in the food.
In the absence of bile, fats become indigestible and are instead excreted in feces, a condition called steatorrhea. Feces lack their characteristic brown color and instead are white or gray, and greasy. Steatorrhea can lead to deficiencies in essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. In addition, past the small intestine (which is normally responsible for absorbing fat from food) the gastrointestinal tract and gut flora are not adapted to processing fats, leading to problems in the large intestine.
The cholesterol contained in bile will occasionally accrete into lumps in the gallbladder, forming gallstones. Cholesterol gallstones are generally treated through surgical removal of the gallbladder. However, they can sometimes be dissolved by increasing the concentration of certain naturally occurring bile acids, such as chenodeoxycholic acid and ursodeoxycholic acid.
On an empty stomach – after repeated vomiting, for example – a person's vomit may be green or dark yellow, and very bitter. The bitter and greenish component may be bile or normal digestive juices originating in the stomach. The color of bile is often likened to "fresh-cut grass", unlike components in the stomach that look greenish yellow or dark yellow. Bile may be forced into the stomach secondary to a weakened valve (pylorus), the presence of certain drugs including alcohol, or powerful muscular contractions and duodenal spasms.
Biliary obstruction refers to a condition when bile ducts which deliver bile from the gallbladder or liver to the duodenum become obstructed. The blockage of bile might cause a build up of bilirubin in the bloodstream which can result in jaundice. There are several potential causes for biliary obstruction including gallstones, cancer, trauma, choledocal cysts, or other benign causes of bile duct narrowing. The most common cause of bile duct obstruction is when gallstone(s) are dislodged from the gallbladder into the cystic duct or common bile duct resulting in a blockage. A blockage of the gallbladder or cystic duct may cause cholecystitis. If the blockage is beyond the confluence of the pancreatic duct, this may cause gallstone pancreatitis. In some instances of biliary obstruction, the bile may become infected by bacteria resulting in ascending cholangitis.
In medical theories prevalent in the West from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, the body's health depended on the equilibrium of four "humors", or vital fluids, two of which related to bile: blood, phlegm, "yellow bile" (choler), and "black bile". These "humors" are believed to have its roots in the appearance of a blood sedimentation test made in open air, which exhibits a dark clot at the bottom ("black bile"), a layer of unclotted erythrocytes ("blood"), a layer of white blood cells ("phlegm") and a layer of clear yellow serum ("yellow bile").
Excesses of black bile and yellow bile were thought to produce depression and aggression, respectively, and the Greek names for them gave rise to the English words cholera (from Greek kholé) and melancholia. In the former of those senses, the same theories explain the derivation of the English word bilious from bile, the meaning of gall in English as "exasperation" or "impudence", and the Latin word cholera, derived from the Greek kholé, which was passed along into some Romance languages as words connoting anger, such as colère (French) and cólera (Spanish).
Bile from dead mammals can be mixed with soap. This mixture, called bile soap, can be applied to textiles a few hours before washing and is a traditional and rather effective method for removing various kinds of tough stains.
Ascending cholangitis, also known as acute cholangitis or simply cholangitis, is inflammation of the bile duct (cholangitis), usually caused by bacteria ascending from its junction with the duodenum (first part of the small intestine). It tends to occur if the bile duct is already partially obstructed by gallstones.Cholangitis can be life-threatening, and is regarded as a medical emergency. Characteristic symptoms include yellow discoloration of the skin or whites of the eyes, fever, abdominal pain, and in severe cases, low blood pressure and confusion. Initial treatment is with intravenous fluids and antibiotics, but there is often an underlying problem (such as gallstones or narrowing in the bile duct) for which further tests and treatments may be necessary, usually in the form of endoscopy to relieve obstruction of the bile duct. The word is from Greek chol-, bile + ang-, vessel + -itis, inflammation.Bile acid
Bile acids are steroid acids found predominantly in the bile of mammals and other vertebrates. Different molecular forms of bile acids can be synthesized in the liver by different species. Bile acids are conjugated with taurine or glycine in the liver, and the sodium and potassium salts of these conjugated bile acids are called bile salts.Primary bile acids are those synthesized by the liver. Secondary bile acids result from bacterial actions in the colon. In humans, taurocholic acid and glycocholic acid (derivatives of cholic acid) and taurochenodeoxycholic acid and glycochenodeoxycholic acid (derivatives of chenodeoxycholic acid) are the major bile salts in bile and are roughly equal in concentration. The conjugated salts of their 7-alpha-dehydroxylated derivatives, deoxycholic acid and lithocholic acid, are also found, with derivatives of cholic, chenodeoxycholic and deoxycholic acids accounting for over 90% of human biliary bile acids.Bile acids are about 80% of the organic compounds in bile (others are phospholipids and cholesterol). An increased secretion of bile acids produces an increase in bile flow. The main function of bile acids is to allow digestion of dietary fats and oils by acting as a surfactant that emulsifies them into micelles, allowing them to be colloidally suspended in the chyme before further processing. They also have hormonal actions throughout the body, particularly through the farnesoid X receptor and GPBAR1 (also known as TGR5).Bile acid malabsorption
Bile acid malabsorption, known also as bile acid diarrhea, is a cause of several gut-related problems, the main one being chronic diarrhea. It has also been called bile acid-induced diarrhea, cholerheic or choleretic enteropathy and bile salt malabsorption. It can result from malabsorption secondary to gastrointestinal disease, or be a primary disorder, associated with excessive bile acid production. Treatment with bile acid sequestrants is often effective.Bile bear
Bile bears, sometimes called battery bears, are bears kept in captivity to harvest their bile, a digestive fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, which is used by some traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. It is estimated that 12,000 bears are farmed for bile in China, South Korea, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar.The bear species most commonly farmed for bile is the Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus), although the sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), brown bear (Ursus arctos) and every other species are also used (the only exception being the Giant Panda which does not produce UDCA). Both the Asiatic black bear and the sun bear are listed as Vulnerable on the Red List of Threatened Animals published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They were previously hunted for bile but factory farming has become common since hunting was banned in the 1980s.The bile can be harvested using several techniques, all of which require some degree of surgery, and may leave a permanent fistula or inserted catheter. A significant proportion of the bears die because of the stress of unskilled surgery or the infections which may occur.
Farmed bile bears are housed continuously in small cages which often prevent them from standing or sitting upright, or from turning around. These highly restrictive cage systems and the low level of skilled husbandry can lead to a wide range of welfare concerns including physical injuries, pain, severe mental stress and muscle atrophy. Some bears are caught as cubs and may be kept in these conditions for up to 30 years.The value of the bear products trade is estimated as high as $2 billion. The practice of factory farming bears for bile has been extensively condemned, including by Chinese physicians.Bile duct
A bile duct is any of a number of long tube-like structures that carry bile, and is present in most vertebrates.
Bile, required for the digestion of food, is secreted by the liver into passages that carry bile toward the hepatic duct, which joins with the cystic duct (carrying bile to and from the gallbladder) to form the common bile duct, which opens into the intestine.Bile salt-dependent lipase
Bile salt-dependent lipase (or BSDL), also known as carboxyl ester lipase (or CEL) is an enzyme produced by the adult pancreas and aids in the digestion of fats. Bile salt-stimulated lipase (or BSSL) is an equivalent enzyme found within breast milk. BSDL has been found in the pancreatic secretions of all species in which it has been looked for. BSSL, originally discovered in the milk of humans and various other primates, has since been found in the milk of many animals including dogs, cats, rats, and rabbits.Biliary tract
The biliary tract, (biliary tree or biliary system) refers to the liver, gall bladder and bile ducts, and how they work together to make, store and secrete bile. Bile consists of water, electrolytes, bile acids, cholesterol, phospholipids and conjugated bilirubin. Some components are synthesised by hepatocytes (liver cells), the rest are extracted from the blood by the liver.
Bile is secreted by the liver into small ducts that join to form the common hepatic duct. Between meals, secreted bile is stored in the gall bladder. During a meal, the bile is secreted into the duodenum to rid the body of waste stored in the bile as well as aid in the absorption of dietary fats and oils.Cholangiocarcinoma
Cholangiocarcinoma, also known as bile duct cancer, is a type of cancer that forms in the bile ducts. Symptoms of cholangiocarcinoma may include abdominal pain, yellowish skin, weight loss, generalized itching, and fever. Light colored stool or dark urine may also occur. Other biliary tract cancers include gallbladder cancer and cancer of the ampulla of Vater.Risk factors for cholangiocarcinoma include primary sclerosing cholangitis (an inflammatory disease of the bile ducts), ulcerative colitis, cirrhosis, hepatitis C, hepatitis B, infection with certain liver fluke, and some congenital liver malformations. However, most people have no identifiable risk factors. The diagnosed is suspected based on a combination of blood tests, medical imaging, endoscopy, and sometimes surgical exploration. The disease is confirmed by examination of cells from the tumor under a microscope. It is typically an adenocarcinoma (a cancer that forms glands or secretes mucin).Cholangiocarcinoma is typically incurable at diagnosis. In these cases palliative treatments may include surgical resection, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stenting procedures. In about a third of cases involving the common bile duct and less commonly with other locations the tumor can be completely removed by surgery offering a chance of a cure. Even when surgical removal is successful chemotherapy and radiation therapy are generally recommended. In certain cases surgery may include a liver transplantation. Even when surgery is successful 5-year survival is typically less than 50%.Cholangiocarcinoma is rare in the Western world, with estimates of it occurring in 0.5–2 people per 100,000 per year. Rates are higher in South-East Asia where liver flukes are common. Rates in parts of Thailand are 60 per 100,000 per year. It typically occurs in people in their 70s, however in those with primary sclerosing cholangitis it often occurs in the 40s. Rates of cholangiocarcinoma within the liver in the Western world have increased.Cholecystitis
Cholecystitis is inflammation of the gallbladder. Symptoms include right upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and occasionally fever. Often gallbladder attacks (biliary colic) precede acute cholecystitis. The pain lasts longer in cholecystitis than in a typical gallbladder attack. Without appropriate treatment, recurrent episodes of cholecystitis are common. Complications of acute cholecystitis include gallstone pancreatitis, common bile duct stones, or inflammation of the common bile duct.More than 90% of the time acute cholecystitis is from blockage of the cystic duct by a gallstone. Risk factors for gallstones include birth control pills, pregnancy, a family history of gallstones, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, or rapid weight loss. Occasionally acute cholecystitis occur as a result of vasculitis, chemotherapy, or during recovery from major trauma or burns. Cholecystitis is suspected based on symptoms and laboratory testing. Abdominal ultrasound is then typically used to confirm the diagnosis.Treatment is usually with laparoscopic gallbladder removal, within 24 hours if possible. Taking pictures of the bile ducts during the surgery is recommended. The routine use of antibiotics is controversial. They are recommended if surgery cannot occur in a timely manner or if the case is complicated. Stones in the common bile duct can be removed before surgery by endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) or during surgery. Complications from surgery are rare. In people unable to have surgery, gallbladder drainage may be tried.About 10–15% of adults in the developed world have gallstones. Women more commonly have stones than men and they occur more commonly after age 40. Certain ethnic groups are more often affected; for example, 48% of American Indians have gallstones. Of all people with stones, 1–4% have biliary colic each year. If untreated, about 20% of people with biliary colic develop acute cholecystitis. Once the gallbladder is removed outcomes are generally good. Without treatment, chronic cholecystitis may occur. The word is from Greek, cholecyst- meaning "gallbladder" and -itis meaning "inflammation".Cholestasis
Cholestasis is a condition where bile cannot flow from the liver to the duodenum. The two basic distinctions are an obstructive type of cholestasis where there is a mechanical blockage in the duct system that can occur from a gallstone or malignancy, and metabolic types of cholestasis which are disturbances in bile formation that can occur because of genetic defects or acquired as a side effect of many medications.Common bile duct
The common bile duct, sometimes abbreviated CBD, is a duct in the gastrointestinal tract of organisms that have a gall bladder. It is formed by the union of the common hepatic duct and the cystic duct (from the gall bladder). It is later joined by the pancreatic duct to form the ampulla of Vater. There, the two ducts are surrounded by the muscular sphincter of Oddi.
When the sphincter of Oddi is closed, newly synthesized bile from the liver is forced into storage in the gall bladder. When open, the stored and concentrated bile exits into the duodenum. This conduction of bile is the main function of the common bile duct. The hormone cholecystokinin, when stimulated by a fatty meal, promotes bile secretion by increased production of hepatic bile, contraction of the gall bladder, and relaxation of the Sphincter of Oddi.Common bile duct stone
Common bile duct stone, also known as choledocholithiasis, is the presence of gallstones in the common bile duct (CBD) (thus choledocho- + lithiasis). This condition can cause jaundice and liver cell damage. Treatment is by cholecystectomy and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).Gallbladder
In vertebrates, the gallbladder is a small hollow organ where bile is stored and concentrated before it is released into the small intestine. In humans, the pear-shaped gallbladder lies beneath the liver, although the structure and position of the gallbladder can vary significantly among animal species. It receives and stores bile, produced by the liver, via the common hepatic duct and releases it via the common bile duct into the duodenum, where the bile helps in the digestion of fats.
The gallbladder can be affected by gallstones, formed by material that cannot be dissolved – usually cholesterol or bilirubin, a product of haemoglobin breakdown. These may cause significant pain, particularly in the upper-right corner of the abdomen, and are often treated with removal of the gallbladder called a cholecystectomy. Cholecystitis, inflammation of the gallbladder, has a wide range of causes, including result from the impaction of gallstones, infection, and autoimmune disease.Gallstone
A gallstone is a stone formed within the gallbladder out of bile components. The term cholelithiasis may refer to the presence of gallstones or to the diseases caused by gallstones. Most people with gallstones (about 80%) never have symptoms. When a gallstone blocks the bile duct, a cramp-like pain in the right upper part of the abdomen, known as biliary colic (gallbladder attack) can result. This happens in 1–4% of those with gallstones each year. Complications of gallstones may include inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), jaundice, and infection of a bile duct (cholangitis). Symptoms of these complications may include pain of more than five hours duration, fever, yellowish skin, vomiting, dark urine, and pale stools.Risk factors for gallstones include birth control pills, pregnancy, a family history of gallstones, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, or rapid weight loss. The bile components that form gallstones include cholesterol, bile salts, and bilirubin. Gallstones formed mainly from cholesterol are termed cholesterol stones, and those mainly from bilirubin are termed pigment stones. Gallstones may be suspected based on symptoms. Diagnosis is then typically confirmed by ultrasound. Complications may be detected on blood tests.The risk of gallstones may be decreased by maintaining a healthy weight with exercise and a healthy diet. If there are no symptoms, treatment is usually not needed. In those who are having gallbladder attacks, surgery to remove the gallbladder is typically recommended. This can be carried out either through several small incisions or through a single larger incision, usually under general anesthesia. In rare cases when surgery is not possible, medication can be used to dissolve the stones or lithotripsy to break them down.In developed countries, 10–15% of adults have gallstones. Rates in many parts of Africa, however, are as low as 3%. Gallbladder and biliary related diseases occurred in about 104 million people (1.6%) in 2013 and they resulted in 106,000 deaths. Women more commonly have stones than men and they occur more commonly after the age of 40. Certain ethnic groups have gallstones more often than others. For example, 48% of Native Americans have gallstones. Once the gallbladder is removed, outcomes are generally good.Human digestive system
The human digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal tract plus the accessory organs of digestion (the tongue, salivary glands, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder). Digestion involves the breakdown of food into smaller and smaller components, until they can be absorbed and assimilated into the body. The process of digestion has many stages. The first stage is the cephalic phase of digestion which begins with gastric secretions in response to the sight and smell of food. The next stage starts in the mouth.
Chewing, in which food is mixed with saliva, begins the mechanical process of digestion. This produces a bolus which can be swallowed down the esophagus to enter the stomach. Here it is mixed with gastric acid until it passes into the duodenum where it is mixed with a number of enzymes produced by the pancreas. Saliva also contains a catalytic enzyme called amylase which starts to act on food in the mouth. Another digestive enzyme called lingual lipase is secreted by some of the lingual papillae on the tongue and also from serous glands in the main salivary glands. Digestion is helped by the chewing of food carried out by the muscles of mastication, by the teeth, and also by the contractions of peristalsis, and segmentation. Gastric acid, and the production of mucus in the stomach, are essential for the continuation of digestion.
Peristalsis is the rhythmic contraction of muscles that begins in the esophagus and continues along the wall of the stomach and the rest of the gastrointestinal tract. This initially results in the production of chyme which when fully broken down in the small intestine is absorbed as chyle into the lymphatic system. Most of the digestion of food takes place in the small intestine. Water and some minerals are reabsorbed back into the blood in the colon of the large intestine. The waste products of digestion (feces) are defecated from the anus via the rectum.Humorism
Humorism, or humoralism, was a system of medicine detailing the makeup and workings of the human body, adopted by Ancient Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers.Jaundice
Jaundice, also known as icterus, is a yellowish or greenish pigmentation of the skin and whites of the eyes due to high bilirubin levels. It is commonly associated with itchiness. The feces may be pale and the urine dark. Jaundice in babies occurs in over half in the first week following birth and does not pose a serious threat in most. If bilirubin levels in babies are very high for too long, a type of brain damage, known as kernicterus, may occur.Causes of jaundice vary from non-serious to potentially fatal. Levels of bilirubin in blood are normally below 1.0 mg/dL (17 µmol/L) and levels over 2–3 mg/dL (34-51 µmol/L) typically results in jaundice. High bilirubin is divided into two types: unconjugated (indirect) and conjugated (direct). Conjugated bilirubin can be confirmed by finding bilirubin in the urine. Other conditions that can cause yellowish skin but are not jaundice include carotenemia from eating large amounts of certain foods and medications like rifampin.High unconjugated bilirubin may be due to excess red blood cell breakdown, large bruises, genetic conditions such as Gilbert's syndrome, not eating for a prolonged period of time, newborn jaundice, or thyroid problems. High conjugated bilirubin may be due to liver diseases such as cirrhosis or hepatitis, infections, medications, or blockage of the bile duct. In the developed world, the cause is more often blockage of the bile duct or medications while in the developing world, it is more often infections such as viral hepatitis, leptospirosis, schistosomiasis, or malaria. Blockage of the bile duct may occur due to gallstones, cancer, or pancreatitis. Medical imaging such as ultrasound is useful for detecting bile duct blockage.Treatment of jaundice is typically determined by the underlying cause. If a bile duct blockage is present, surgery is typically required; otherwise, management is medical. Medical management may involve treating infectious causes and stopping medication that could be contributing. Among newborns, depending on age and prematurity, a bilirubin greater than 4–21 mg/dL (68-360 µmol/L) may be treated with phototherapy or exchanged transfusion. The itchiness may be helped by draining the gallbladder or ursodeoxycholic acid. The word jaundice is from the French jaunisse, meaning "yellow disease".Liver
The liver, an organ only found in vertebrates, detoxifies various metabolites, synthesizes proteins, and produces biochemicals necessary for digestion. In humans, it is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, below the diaphragm. Its other roles in metabolism include the regulation of glycogen storage, decomposition of red blood cells and the production of hormones.The liver is an accessory digestive gland that produces bile, an alkaline compound which helps the breakdown of fat. Bile aids in digestion via the emulsification of lipids. The gallbladder, a small pouch that sits just under the liver, stores bile produced by the liver which is afterwards moved to the small intestine to complete digestion. The liver's highly specialized tissue consisting of mostly hepatocytes regulates a wide variety of high-volume biochemical reactions, including the synthesis and breakdown of small and complex molecules, many of which are necessary for normal vital functions. Estimates regarding the organ's total number of functions vary, but textbooks generally cite it being around 500.Terminology related to the liver often starts in hepat- from ἡπατο-, from the Greek word for liver.No way is yet known to compensate for the absence of liver function in the long term, although liver dialysis techniques can be used in the short term. Artificial livers are yet to be developed to promote long-term replacement in the absence of the liver. As of 2018, liver transplantation is the only option for complete liver failure.Pinot blanc
Pinot blanc is a white wine grape. It is a point genetic mutation of Pinot noir. Pinot noir is genetically unstable and will occasionally experience a point mutation in which a vine bears all black fruit except for one cane which produces white fruit.
Physiology of the gastrointestinal system