The renal excretion of urobilinogen was studied in dogs by standard clearance techniques. The use of radiochemically pure tritiated mesobilirubinogen as a representative urobilinogen afforded much greater analytical precision than can be obtained with the usual colorimetric and fluorimetric techniques which are only semiquantitative. With constant plasma levels of urobilinogen, raising urinary pH from 5 to 8 increased urobilinogen excretion from about 30% to up to 200% of the filtered load. When urinary pH was kept constant, changes in blood pH had no effect on urobilinogen excretion. Increases in urinary flow had no effect on urobilinogen excretion when the urine was alkaline but increased excretion markedly during aciduria. Probenecid did not influence urobilinogen excretion by the kidney. It is concluded that urobilinogen is excreted by a three-component system of glomerular filtration, active secretion, and pH-dependent nonionic diffusion in the distal nephron. Urobilinogen is a weak acid, and this mode of excretion is similar to that of other weak, organic acids, such as salicylates. These results indicate that urinary pH and flow must be considered in the clinical interpretation of measurements of urinary urobilinogen.
Mortimer Levy, Roger Lester, Norman G. Levinsky