Serum and hepatic autofluorescence as a real-time diagnostic tool for early cholestasis assessment

Anna C. Croce, Giovanni Bottiroli, Laura G. Di Pasqua, Clarissa Berardo, Veronica Siciliano, Vittoria Rizzo, Mariapia Vairetti, Andrea Ferrigno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While it is well established that various factors can impair the production and flow of bile and lead to cholestatic disease in hepatic and extrahepatic sites, an enhanced assessment of the biomarkers of the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms is still needed to improve early diagnosis and therapeutic strategies. Hence, we investigated fluorescing endogenous biomolecules as possible intrinsic biomarkers of molecular and cellular changes in cholestasis. Spectroscopic autofluorescence (AF) analysis was performed using a fiber optic probe (366 nm excitation), under living conditions and in serum, on the livers of male Wistar rats submitted to bile duct ligation (BDL, 24, 48, and 72 h). Biomarkers of liver injury were assayed biochemically. In the serum, AF analysis distinctly detected increased bilirubin at 24 h BDL. A continuous, significant increase in red-fluorescing porphyrin derivatives indicated the subversion of heme metabolism, consistent with an almost twofold increase in the serum iron at 72 h BDL. In the liver, changes in the AF of NAD(P)H and flavins, as well as lipopigments, indicated the impairment of mitochondrial functionality, oxidative stress, and the accumulation of oxidative products. A serum/hepatic AF profile can be thus proposed as a supportive diagnostic tool for the in situ, real-time study of bio-metabolic alterations in bile duct ligation (BDL) in experimental hepatology, with the potential to eventually translate to clinical diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2634
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 5 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • BDL model
  • Bilirubin
  • Endogenous porphyrins
  • Energy metabolism
  • Extrahepatic cholestasis
  • Oxidative stress
  • Spectrofluorometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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