INTRODUCTION: The diagnosis of bile acid diarrhea is often missed because the availability of the seleno-taurohomocholic acid (SeHCAT) test is limited. We aimed to compare the biomarkers 7α-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one (C4) and fibroblast growth factor 19 (FGF19) with the SeHCAT test.
METHODS: Patients with chronic diarrhea without intestinal resection referred for SeHCAT were prospectively recruited for this diagnostic accuracy study. Blood was sampled at fasting and after a stimulation meal with chenodeoxycholic acid. SeHCAT retention ≤10% defined bile acid diarrhea and >10% defined miscellaneous diarrhea. Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) were analyzed with SeHCAT as the gold standard. www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT03059537).
RESULTS: Patients with bile acid diarrhea (n = 26) had mean C4 of 30 ng/mL (95% confidence interval: 19-46) vs 8 (7-11; P < 0.001) in the miscellaneous diarrhea group (n = 45). Area under the ROC curve (ROCAUC) for C4 was 0.83 (0.72-0.93). C4 < 15 ng/mL had 85% (74%-96%) negative predictive value; C4 > 48 ng/mL had 82% (59%-100%) positive predictive value. Twenty patients had C4 values 15-48 ng/mL, of whom 11/20 had SeHCAT ≤10%. Median fasting FGF19 was 72 pg/mL (interquartile range: 53-146) vs 119 (84-240) (P = 0.004); ROCAUC was 0.71 (0.58-0.83). Stimulated FGF19 responses did not differ (P = 0.54).
DISCUSSION: We identified C4 thresholds with clinically useful predictive values for the diagnosis of and screening for bile acid diarrhea in patients with chronic watery diarrhea. Further validation of the cutoff values with the placebo-controlled effect of sequestrant therapy is warranted (see Visual Abstract, Supplementary Digital Content 2, http://links.lww.com/AJG/B603).