Evolving Up-regulation of Biliary Fibrosis–Related Extracellular Matrix Molecules After Successful Portoenterostomy

Antti Kyrönlahti, Nimish Godbole, Oyediran Akinrinade, Tea Soini, Iiris Nyholm, Noora Andersson, Maria Hukkinen, Jouko Lohi, David B. Wilson, Marjut Pihlajoki, Mikko P. Pakarinen, Markku Heikinheimo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Successful portoenterostomy (SPE) improves the short-term outcome of patients with biliary atresia (BA) by relieving cholestasis and extending survival with native liver. Despite SPE, hepatic fibrosis progresses in most patients, leading to cirrhosis and a deterioration of liver function. The goal of this study was to characterize the effects of SPE on the BA liver transcriptome. We used messenger RNA sequencing to analyze global gene-expression patterns in liver biopsies obtained at the time of portoenterostomy (n = 13) and 1 year after SPE (n = 8). Biopsies from pediatric (n = 2) and adult (n = 2) organ donors and other neonatal cholestatic conditions (n = 5) served as controls. SPE was accompanied by attenuation of inflammation and concomitant up-regulation of key extracellular matrix (ECM) genes. Highly overexpressed genes promoting biliary fibrosis and bile duct integrity, such as integrin subunit beta 6 and previously unreported laminin subunit alpha 3, emerged as candidates to control liver fibrosis after SPE. At a cellular level, the relative abundance of activated hepatic stellate cells and liver macrophages decreased following SPE, whereas portal fibroblasts (PFs) and cholangiocytes persisted. Conclusion: The attenuation of inflammation following SPE coincides with emergence of an ECM molecular fingerprint, a set of profibrotic molecules mechanistically connected to biliary fibrosis. The persistence of activated PFs and cholangiocytes after SPE suggests a central role for these cell types in the progression of biliary fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1036-1050
Number of pages15
JournalHepatology Communications
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


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