A new method for the simpler colorimetric assay of serum total 3 alpha-hydroxy bile acid concentrations without prior extraction has been investigated. The lowest concentration that could be reliably measured was 3 mumol/l and the results obtained were in agreement with those obtained using extraction and the spectrofluorimetric enzymatic assay (y = 1.007x - 1.86, r = 0.99, n = 36). Results for 20 normal sera collected after an overnight fast were 6.2 +/- 5.1 mumol/l (mean +/- SD) and in 20 normal plasma randomly collected were 4.9 +/- 4.2 mumol/l. This new assay is comparable in specificity and sensitivity to the older spectrofluorimetric enzymatic assays and convenient for routine use.
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