Serum Proteomics Uncovers Biomarkers of Clinical Portal Hypertension in Children With Biliary Atresia

Julie Osborn, Reena Mourya, Unmesha Thanekar, Weizhe Su, Lin Fei, Pranavkumar Shivakumar, Jorge A. Bezerra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children with biliary atresia (BA) often develop portal hypertension (PHT) and its complications, which are associated with high morbidity and mortality. The goal of this study was to identify serum biomarkers of PHT by using large-scale proteomics. We applied the slow off-rate modified aptamer scan (SOMAscan) to measure 1,305 proteins in serum samples of children with BA with and without clinical evidence of PHT in validation and discovery cohorts enrolled in the Biliary Atresia Study of Infants and Children. Serum proteomics data was analyzed using logistic regression to identify protein(s) with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) ≥ 0.90. Immunostaining was used to characterize the cellular localization of the new biomarker proteins in liver tissues. We identified nine proteins in the discovery cohort (n = 40 subjects) and five proteins in the validation cohort (n = 80 subjects) that individually or in combination predicted clinical PHT with AUROCs ≥ 0.90. Merging the two cohorts, we found that semaphorin 6B (SEMA6B) alone and three other protein combinations (SEMA6B+secreted frizzle protein 3 [SFRP3], SEMA6B+COMM domain containing 7 [COMMD7], and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 [VCAM1]+BMX nonreceptor tyrosine kinase [BMX]) had AUROCs ≥ 0.90 in both cohorts, with high positive- and negative-predictive values. Immunostaining of the new protein biomarkers showed increased expression in hepatic endothelial cells, cholangiocytes, and immune cells within portal triads in BA livers with clinical PHT compared to healthy livers. Conclusion: Large-scale proteomics identified SEMA6B, SFRP3, COMMD7, BMX, and VCAM1 as biomarkers highly associated with clinical PHT in BA. The expression of the biomarkers in hepatic epithelial, endothelial, and immune cells support their potential role in the pathophysiology of PHT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)995-1004
Number of pages10
JournalHepatology Communications
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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