Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Today I Learned...

So, my younger brother had jaundice (was jaundiced?) when he was born, and today I learned why! I probably should have learned it yesterday when we actually had the lecture, but I didn't fully get it till I went back over it today. It seems really cool to me - but you might not get it probably won't get it won't care about this if you haven't had Biochemistry or a child/loved one with jaundice (who was jaundiced? Hmm...). If that isn't you, free to turn your brain off for the rest of this post.

My brother must have been deficient in either UDP-glucuronyl transferase (which would have caused the jaundice directly), or UDP-glucose dehydrogenase (which would have caused it indirectly by blocking the production of UDP-glucuronic acid, a substrate for the correct conjugation of bilirubin).
 
Since bilirubin is a natural product of heme metabolism (recycling of red blood cells, and therefore the hemoglobin they contain), if the production pathways for the enzymes responsible for bilirubin modification for excretion from the liver aren't fully-developed at the time of birth (as the mother's circulation would have been purifying the baby's blood in the placenta before birth), bilirubin will accumulate in the liver.

When it gets high enough in the liver, it will start leaking into the blood serum. Since it's yellowish in color, when it enters the skin capillaries it will color the skin and sclera of the eyesyellow. The reason they probably put my brother under UV lights to treat it is that bilirubin gets broken into manageable pieces by UV light, allowing the liver to send the pieces to the kidneys for excretion until its bilirubin-enzyme handling system is up to snuff.

Cool, huh? Back to studying...

3 comments:

Jill said...

My first daughter had jaundice ----> bilirubin light time. Scary at the time, but I understand it more now. Thanks.

NoLongerSilent said...

The funny thing is I was just listening to that lecture. I think you did a very good job of summing up some of the ways you can get jaundice.

I hope your brother is doing much better, which I'm sure he is given that he's probably an adult or something now.

Well good luck studying. We have an exam Monday so I'm going through the info right now :(

Anonymous said...

So cool, I'm having a flashback- undergrad biochem lecture, if only my prof could have explained that part (he prob didn't know lol), the class would have been way more interesting and bearable. Why do undergrad profs have to be so boring?

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