Background: Biliary atresia (BA) is an infantile fibro-obstructive cholestatic disease with poor prognosis. An early diagnosis and timely Kasai portoenterostomy (KPE) improve clinical outcomes. Aggregation of amyloid-beta (Aβ) around hepatic bile ducts has been discovered as a factor for BA pathogenesis, yet whether plasma Aβ levels correlate with hepatic dysfunctions and could be a biomarker for BA remains unknown.
Method: Plasma samples of 11 BA and 24 controls were collected for liver function test, Aβ40 and Aβ42 measurement by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Pearson's chi-squared test or Mann–Whitney U test was performed to assess differences between groups. Correlation between Aβ42/Aβ40 and liver function parameters was performed using Pearson analysis. The area under the receiver-operative characteristic (ROC) curve (area under curve; AUC) was measured to evaluate the diagnostic power of Aβ42/Aβ40 for BA. Diagnostic enhancement was further evaluated by binary regression ROC analysis of Aβ42/Aβ40 combined with other hepatic function parameters.
Results: Plasma Aβ42/Aβ40 was elevated in BA patients. Aβ42 displayed a weak positive correlation with γ-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) (Pearson’s correlation = 0.349), while there was no correlation for Aβ40 with hepatic functions. Aβ42/Aβ40 was moderately correlated with GGT, total bile acid (TBA), direct bilirubin (DBIL) (Pearson’s correlation = 0.533, 0.475, 0.480), and weakly correlated with total bilirubin (TBIL) (Pearson’s correlation = 0.337). Aβ42/Aβ40 showed an acceptable predictive power for cholestasis [AUC = 0.746 (95% CI: 0.552–0.941), p < 0.05]. Diagnostic powers of Aβ42/Aβ40 together with hepatic function parameters for cholestasis were markedly improved compared to any indicator alone. Neither Aβ42/Aβ40 nor hepatic function parameters displayed sufficient power in discriminating BA from choledochal cysts (CC); however, combinations of Aβ42/Aβ40 + GGT along with any other hepatic function parameters could differentiate BA from CC-cholestasis (AUC = 1.000, p < 0.05) with a cut-off value as 0.02371, −0.28387, −0.34583, 0.06224, 0.01040, 0.06808, and 0.05898, respectively. Conclusion: Aβ42/Aβ40 is a good indicator for cholestasis, but alone is insufficient for a distinction of BA from non-BA. However, Aβ42/Aβ40 combined with GGT and one other hepatic function parameter displayed a high predictive power as a screening test for jaundiced neonates who are more likely to be BA, enabling them to early intraoperative cholangiography for BA confirmation and KPE to improve surgical outcomes. However, a multi-centers validation is needed before introduction into daily clinical practice.
Scopus Subject Areas
- biliary atresia
- hepatic function