Describe the physiology of bile and its metabolism

Bile is a dark green solution produced by the liver to facilitate absorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins (ADEK) through emulsification. Bile is:

  • Produced by the liver at the rate of 1L per day
  • Concentrated in the gallbladder
  • Important in the absorbance of lipid and fat-soluble vitamins
  • Formed from:
    • Water
    • Protein
    • Bilirubin
    • Bile salts
      The sodium and potassium salts of bile acids. Bile acids:
      • Are are produced from cholesterol
      • Are amphipathic, and act as emulsifiers of lipid
        Break up large fat globules into smaller micelles, which can then be absorbed.
      • Major bile acids include:
        • Cholic acid
        • Chenodeoxycholic acid
      • Are absorbed in the terminal ileum, and recycled by the portal circulation
    • Lipids
    • Electrolytes


  1. Hall, JE, and Guyton AC. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. 11th Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier. 2011.
  2. Kam P, Power I. Principles of Physiology for the Anaesthetist. 3rd Ed. Hodder Education. 2012.
Last updated 2019-07-18

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