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The liver plays a pivotal role in a myriad of metabolic processes, including detoxification, glycolipidic storage and export, and protein synthesis. Breath tests employing (13)C as stable isotope have been introduced to explore such energy-dependent pathways involving mitochondrial function in the liver. Specific substrates are ketoisocaproic acid, methionine, and octanoic acid. In humans, the application of (13)C-breath tests ranges from nonalcoholic and alcoholic liver diseases to liver cirrhosis, hepatocarcinoma, preoperative and postoperative assessment of liver function, and drug-induced liver damage. Studying liver mitochondrial function by (13)C-breath tests represents a complementary tool to monitor complex metabolic processes in health and disease.


Ignazio Grattagliano, Leonilde Bonfrate, Michele Lorusso, Luigi Castorani, Ornella de Bari, Piero Portincasa. Exploring liver mitochondrial function by ¹³C-stable isotope breath tests: implications in clinical biochemistry. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2015;1241:137-52

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PMID: 25308494

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