The first important step that must be taken in order to be able to analyze in depth the term that concerns us now is to proceed to determine its etymological origin. Thus, it is clear that this is found in Latin where we can see how it is formed by the union of several clearly differentiated: the word bile that can be defined as “gall”, the adjective rubrum that can be translated as red, and the suffix – ina which is equivalent to “substance”.
Bilirubin is known as a pigment of biliary origin and yellowish hue that arises as a result of the breakdown of hemoglobin. It is a biomolecule born after the rupture of the erythrocyte cell membrane and the release of hemoglobin, which is phagocytosed by the macrophages of the body.
It is important to underline the fact that bilirubin is a substance that was discovered in the 19th century by the scientist Heiktz.
Shortly after, macrophages are responsible for releasing iron from hemoglobin, which is stored in the liver or is carried to the bone marrow. This iron is kept as a reserve for cases of extreme need. The macrophages in the tissues are responsible for transforming the porphyrin of hemoglobin into bilirubin, which circulates through the blood to the liver. With the action of bile, bilirubin breaks down.
The increase in bilirubin in the bloodstream causes this pigment to accumulate in tissues with a greater amount of elastic fibers. Normal values for bilirubin in the blood are between 0.3 and 1 mg / dl: when the level exceeds 2 mg / dl, the skin and mucosa turn yellowish.
This phenomenon is known as jaundice. The increase in bilirubin can be caused by indirect or unconjugated bilirubin (not filtered by the kidney) or by direct or conjugated bilirubin (filtered by the kidney). When the increase occurs by both fractions, it is called mixed hyperbilirubinemia.
It is possible to distinguish between three types of jaundice: prehepatic jaundice (linked to hemolysis and Gilbert’s disease), liver jaundice (due to acute viral hepatitis, chronic hepatitis or liver cirrhosis) and post-liver jaundice (caused by stones or cancer).
The aforementioned Gilbert’s disease must be stressed that it is a hereditary pathology that involves high levels of bilirubin that are caused by the fact that the person in question has a partial deficiency of the so-called glucuronyltransferase enzyme.
Among the most frequent symptoms that indicate that someone suffers from this syndrome, jaundice stands out, without a doubt, and especially in times when they suffer a lot of stress or situations of great tension.
Besides all the above, we cannot ignore the fact that the term in question is part of the title of one of the most famous songs of the 90’s. We are referring to the composition “La bilirubina” that he made the Dominican composer Juan Luis Guerra, one of the most important singer-songwriters in his country and specifically one of the key figures of so-called Latin music.