Dubin-Johnson syndrome is a disorder passed down through families (inherited) in which a person has mild jaundice throughout life.
Dubin-Johnson syndrome is a very rare genetic disorder. In order to inherit the condition, a child must get a copy of the defective gene from both parents.
The syndrome interferes with the body's ability to move a chemical called bilirubin from the liver. Bilirubin is produced when the liver breaks down worn out red blood cells. It normally moves through the bile produced by the liver and into the bile ducts, past the gallbladder, and into the digestive system.
When bilirubin is not properly processed, it builds up in the bloodstream and causes the skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow (jaundice). Severely high levels of bilirubin can damage the brain and other organs.
People with Dubin-Johnson syndrome have lifelong mild jaundice that may be made worse by:
- Birth control pills
- Environmental factors that affect the liver
Mild jaundice, which may not appear until puberty or adulthood, is usually the only symptom of Dubin-Johnson syndrome.
Exams and Tests
The following tests can help diagnose this syndrome:
No specific treatment is required.
The outlook is very positive. Dubin-Johnson syndrome generally does not shorten a person's lifespan.
Complications are unusual, but may include the following:
- Reduced liver function
- Severe jaundice
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if any of the following occurs:
- Jaundice is severe
- Jaundice gets worse over time
- You also have abdominal pain or other symptoms (which may be a sign that another disorder is causing the jaundice)
Genetic counseling may be helpful for people who wish to have children and have a family history of Dubin-Johnson syndrome.
Berk P, Korenblat K. Approach to the patient with jaundice or abnormal liver test results. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 149.
Lidofsky SD. Jaundice. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Sleisenger MH, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 20.
Reviewed By:Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency
or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional
should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911
for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they
do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.
Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.