Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Breakthrough in understanding life-threatening childhood liver disease: Link to infection found in biliary atresia

Date:
October 27, 2010
Source:
University of Colorado Denver
Summary:
Researchers have taken a big step toward understanding what causes one of the most serious liver diseases in infants. The disease is called biliary atresia. It blocks the bile ducts in young infants. Until now, doctors weren't sure what caused biliary atresia. The researchers propose that an infection late in the third trimester of pregnancy or soon after birth initiates the bile duct injury.

Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and The Children's Hospital have taken a big step toward understanding what causes one of the most serious liver diseases in infants.

The disease is called biliary atresia, It blocks the bile ducts in young infants, through which bile, crucial for digestion, flows to the small intestine. The disease is rare -- it strikes in about one in 10,000 births. But it's life-threatening.

"It is fatal if not treated quickly," says Cara Mack, MD, who led the CU research.

Surgical removal of the blocked main bile duct can buy time but ultimately the treatment in the majority of cases is a liver transplant during infancy or childhood, a procedure that is both complicated and expensive.

Until now, doctors weren't sure what caused biliary atresia, which is important to know in order to develop better treatments. The CU researchers propose that an infection late in the third trimester of pregnancy or soon after birth initiates the bile duct injury.

The body fights off the infection and infants initially show no signs of a problem. But then, Mack says, the body continues to battle as if the infection still was active. The body, however, is attacking itself -- the bile ducts specifically -- not the infection. This is called an autoimmune process.

Why? Mack's research in a mouse model of the disease suggests that it may be that the bile ducts have been changed and the body's protective system senses that. Or it may be that the bile ducts give off a protein that is similar to proteins produced by the infection, launching the body's defenses into action. In these investigations, Mack and colleagues identified an immune system compound, anti-enolase antibody, that reacts to both virus and bile duct proteins. This antibody may contribute to the bile duct injury in biliary atresia.

"After a viral infection has resolved," Mack says, "the body's immune defenses turn on the bile ducts and cause continued damage."

That leads to scarring of the bile ducts, eventually blocking them so that "bile is not able to flow from the bile ducts into the intestines," says Mack, an associate professor in pediatrics with CU, who practices at The Children's Hospital in Aurora.

The discovery, published recently in the journal Gastroenterology, isn't a cure. But it is a big step, "pointing the way to new diagnostic tests and, eventually, to improved treatment options for this devastating disease," Mack says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado Denver. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brandy R. Lu, Stephen M. Brindley, Rebecca M. Tucker, Cherie L. Lambert, Cara L. Mack. α-Enolase Autoantibodies Cross-Reactive to Viral Proteins in a Mouse Model of Biliary Atresia. Gastroenterology, 2010; DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2010.07.042

Cite This Page:

University of Colorado Denver. "Breakthrough in understanding life-threatening childhood liver disease: Link to infection found in biliary atresia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101026141508.htm>.
University of Colorado Denver. (2010, October 27). Breakthrough in understanding life-threatening childhood liver disease: Link to infection found in biliary atresia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101026141508.htm
University of Colorado Denver. "Breakthrough in understanding life-threatening childhood liver disease: Link to infection found in biliary atresia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101026141508.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins