Working on biomarkers for Biliary Atresia

Two studies have tried to identify biomarkers to facilitate the diagnosis of biliary atresia (BA).

  • JPGN 2012; 55: 366-69
  • JPGN 2012; 55: 370-75

The first study looks at the serum of 24 patients with BA & 24 cholestatic controls.  Several circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) were associated with BA.  The miR-200b/429 cluster could correctly classify up to 85% of patients.

The second study took serum samples from 42 infants with BA, 38 infants with non-BA cholestasis, and 36 healthy controls.  Using mass spectrometry and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, they identified a candidate biomarker, Apo C-II, which was down-regulated in BA samples compared to healthy controls, but relatively upregulated compared with cholestatic non-BA samples.  The sensitivity of this model was 94% and the specificity was 92%.

Given the consequence of a missed diagnosis of BA, further work to identify biomarkers with even better sensitivity/specificity will be necessary to change current diagnostic algorithms.

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