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.

Related Articles


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 October 24, 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 October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) The family of a Dallas nurse infected with Ebola in the US says doctors can no longer detect the virus in her. Despite the mounting death toll in West Africa, there are survivors there too. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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