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Biliary AtresiaHealth Professionals Blog

Genetic contributions to biliary atresia: a developmental cholangiopathy

Title: Genetic contributions to biliary atresia: a developmental cholangiopathy 

Source: Seminars in Liver Disease 2023, August 15. [Epublication]

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Date of publication: August 2023 

Publication type: Review article 

Abstract: Biliary atresia (BA) is the most prevalent serious liver disease of infancy and childhood, and the principal indication for liver transplantation in pediatrics. BA is best considered as an idiopathic panbiliary cholangiopathy characterized by obstruction of bile flow and consequent cholestasis presenting during fetal and perinatal periods. While a number of etiologies have been proposed, each has significant drawbacks that have limited understanding of disease progression and the development of effective treatments. Recently, modern genetic analyses have uncovered gene variants contributing to BA, thereby shifting the paradigm for explaining the BA phenotype from an acquired etiology (e.g., virus, toxin) to one that results from genetically-altered cholangiocyte development and function. Herein we review recently reported genetic contributions to BA, highlighting the enhanced representation of variants in biological pathways involving ciliary function, cytoskeletal structure, and inflammation. Finally, we blend these findings as a new framework for understanding the resultant BA phenotype as a developmental cholangiopathy. 

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