Genetic induction of proinflammatory immunity in children with biliary atresia

Jorge A. Bezerra, Greg Tiao, Frederick C. Ryckman, Maria Alonso, Gregg E. Sabla, Benjamin Shneider, Ronald J. Sokol, Bruce J. Aronow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


Background: Biliary atresia is the commonest cause of pathological jaundice in infants and the leading indication for liver transplantation in children worldwide. The cause and pathogenesis remain largely unknown. Because of clinical heterogeneity and experimental difficulties in addressing molecular mechanisms underlying multifactorial disorders in human beings, we searched for genomic signatures of biliary atresia in affected infants. Methods: We generated pools of biotinylated cRNA from livers of 14 infants with biliary atresia and six with neonatal intrahepatic cholestasis (diseased controls) and hybridised the cRNA against oligonucleotide-based gene chips. Immunohistochemistry and reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR were used to assess the specificity of the findings and functional commitment of lymphocytes in affected livers. Findings: Data filtering, to identify genes that are differentially expressed, and cluster analysis revealed a predominant and coordinated activation of immunity/inflammation genes within the livers of infants with biliary atresia. Most of the genes showed differential lymphocyte function, with activation of osteopontin, a regulator of cell-mediated (T-helper 1 [Th-1]) immunity in T-helper lymphocytes, and suppression of immunoglobulin genes in early stages of disease. These findings were associated with production of interferon γ in 65% of infants with biliary atresia and no diseased control. However, histologically similar inflammatory infiltrates were present in livers of both groups, implying differential activation states of similar cell types. Interpretation: Livers of infants with biliary atresia have a coordinated activation of genes involved in lymphocyte differentiation. Among these genes, the overexpression of osteopontin and interferon γ points to a potential role of Th-1-like cytokines in disease pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1653-1659
Number of pages7
Issue number9346
StatePublished - Nov 23 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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