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The physiology of bilirubin: health and disease equilibrium

Publication at First Faculty of Medicine |


Bilirubin has several physiological functions, both beneficial and harmful. In addition to reactive oxygen species-scavenging activities, bilirubin has potent immunosuppressive effects associated with long-term pathophysiological sequelae.

It has been recently recognized as a hormone with endocrine actions and interconnected effects on various cellular signaling pathways. Current studies show that bilirubin also decreases adiposity and prevents metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.

All in all, the physiological importance of bilirubin is only now coming to light, and strategies for increasing plasma bilirubin levels to combat chronic diseases are starting to be considered. This review discusses the beneficial effects of increasing plasma bilirubin, incorporates emerging areas of bilirubin biology, and provides key concepts to advance the field.