NOTE: The following information is meant for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a tool to diagnosis or treat any medical condition.
What is Gilbert’s Syndrome?
Gilbert’s Syndrome (GS) is a liver disease in which the liver is not able to process bilirubin, a byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells.
- Mild yellowing of the eyes (jaundice), mucous membranes, and skin
- Elevated bilirubin levels following exertion, stress, alcohol consumption, dehydration, fasting, and/or infection
- Not all individuals have symptoms
Causes of Gilbert’s Syndrome
Gilbert’s syndrome is an inherited condition. An abnormal gene is unable to control the enzyme that breaks down bilirubin in the liver, and as a result, excess amounts of bilirubin build up in the blood.
Although gynecomastia has been seen in men who have Gilbert’s syndrome, the mechanism by which obvious symptoms of gynecomastia arises from this condition is unknown. It may be due to the role of enzymes (UGT1A1) in the processing of C18 steroids (estrogen). The UGT1A1 is less effective in Gilbert’s syndrome, and therefore it would stand to reason the estrogen levels could rise, causing gynecomastia.
Diagnosis of Gilbert’s Syndrome
Blood and liver tests to rule out liver disease are generally performed. A result that shows elevated bilirubin with normal blood and liver function is an indicator for Gilbert’s syndrome. Typically, no other testing is needed; however, genetic testing can confirm the diagnosis.
Because bilirubin levels in the blood fluctuate over time, and the resulting jaundice usually resolves itself with no adverse effects, Gilbert’s syndrome requires no treatment unless you have additional or unusual symptoms such as gynecomastia, which is resolved through a separate procedure.
Resources and Support
For more information about Gilbert’s Syndrome, visit: