Journal of Chromatography vol:496 issue:1 pages:1-26
Recent applications of thin-layer chromatographic (TLC) and high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) procedures has revealed an unexpected wide variety of naturally occurring unconjugated and conjugated bilirubins. Biliverdins seems to occur only in unconjugated forms, mainly as the IX alpha isomer. Several synthetic biliverdins and bilirubins present interesting models for biochemical and metabolic studies. Owing to recent recognition of the astounding heterogeneity of natural bilirubins and to the various artifactual changes that bile pigments can undergo, considerable confusion has existed, and still exists, with regard to the nomenclature of the bile pigments and their derivatives. To set a background for further discussion, the present review starts with a brief discussion of nomenclature and of the various characteristic forms of lability of the bile pigments. TLC and HPLC procedures for preparation and analysis of unconjugated biliverdins and bilirubins and their methyl ester and sugar ester conjugates, as well as procedures for analysis of bilirubin-protein conjugates, are then discussed. Since, in view of the lability and pronounced heterogeneity of bile pigments, it is important to assess the composition and nature of chromatographically isolated pigments, the review is concluded by a brief evaluation of various structural tests.