Send to

Choose Destination
Hepatology. 2003 Nov;38(5):1227-36.

Validity of the 13C-caffeine breath test as a noninvasive, quantitative test of liver function.

Author information

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, The University of Sydney, Concord Hospital, Concord, NSW, Australia.


The properties of caffeine render it an ideal substrate for a quantitative test of liver function. The aim of this study was to determine whether the caffeine breath test (CBT) using orally administered 13C-caffeine correlates reliably with plasma caffeine clearance and reflects varying degrees of liver dysfunction. The CBT was performed in 25 healthy controls; 20 subjects with noncirrhotic, chronic hepatitis B or C; and 20 subjects with cirrhosis. Plasma caffeine clearance was assayed simultaneously with the CBT in a cohort of these subjects. Over a broad range of caffeine clearances, the CBT exhibited a highly significant correlation with plasma clearance (r = 0.85, P <.001). Cirrhotic patients were characterized by significantly reduced CBT values (1.15 +/- 0.75 delta per thousand mg(-1)) compared with controls (2.23 +/- 0.76; P =.001) and hepatitic patients (1.83 +/- 1.05; P =.04). There was a significant inverse relationship between the CBT and Child-Pugh score (r = -.74, P =.002). The intraclass correlation coefficient between repeated CBTs in 20 subjects with normal and cirrhotic livers was 0.89. Although smoking was associated with an 86% to 141% increase in CBT in all groups, the CBT was able to distinguish control, hepatitic, and cirrhotic smokers (5.36 +/- 0.82, 3.63 +/- 1.21, and 2.14 +/- 1.14, respectively, P =.001). Multivariate analysis revealed that only smoking (P <.001) and disease state (P =.001) were significant predictors of the CBT. In conclusion, the 13C-CBT represents a valid indicator of plasma caffeine clearance and correlates reproducibly with hepatic dysfunction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center