Association of stool microbial profile with short-term outcome in infants with biliary atresia after Kasai Portoenterostomy


Dr Vandana Jain of King’s College Hospital, London discusses her research and what it means for the future of treating childhood liver disease.

What is this study looking at?

Biliary atresia (BA) is a disease in children where inflammation within the bile ducts lead to jaundice and liver inflammation. An operation called a “Kasai-Portoenterostomy” (Kasai) can be performed in the first two months of life to “re-plumb” the liver to the gut to restore bile flow between the liver and the gut.It is thought that microorganisms (such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi) within the gut may have an impact on how serious liver disease in children with BA becomes.

The research team will look at the microorganisms inside the guts of children who have had the Kasai at different ages.The team will then compare which microorganisms are present in the guts of children who have BA but are healthy after the Kasai procedure, those with BA who have the procedure but need a liver transplant afterwards and healthy children without biliary atresia.

Why is this research important?

The impact of microorganisms in the gut has been studied in adults with liver disease and is believed to play a role in adult liver disease. Until now there has been little research into its potential role in biliary atresia.

This research will further our knowledge and understanding of whether microorganisms have a role in paediatric liver disease.

What about the future?

It is hoped that we will be able to find out if microorganisms inside the gut play a role in making liver disease worse in biliary atresia, and if so, which ones.

If microorganisms are identified the next step is to find out how to target these bacteria so we can reduce the number of harmful bacteria in the guts of biliary atresia patients. Potential treatments may include antibiotics, diet or probiotics.

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