One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An orange-yellow pigment formed in the liver by the breakdown of hemoglobin and excreted in bile.
- ‘A healthy liver filters bilirubin, a breakdown product of old red blood cells.’
- ‘Normally, the liver processes this bilirubin and excretes it into the bowel through the bile duct.’
- ‘It means the liver cannot break down bilirubin, which can leave the sufferer jaundiced and lead to brain damage.’
- ‘Bilirubin accumulates in the body when the excretion of bilirubin in the bile cannot keep up with production.’
- ‘The liver plays an essential role in the metabolism of bilirubin and the excretion of its metabolites into the bile.’
Late 19th century: coined in German from Latin bilis ‘bile’ + ruber ‘red’ + -in.
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