Objective: The mechanisms responsible for increased collagen production and hepatic fibrosis in biliary atresia (BA) remain largely unknown. We evaluated α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression in liver and the porta hepatis in infants with BA.
Methods: Immunohistochemical staining for α-SMA and CD68 in the BA liver and porta hepatis was performed. A semiquantitative 3-grade staging system was employed to estimate liver fibrosis. The densities of CD68 in BA liver and the levels of direct bilirubin were assessed in relation to α-SMA expression.
Results: α-SMA was found to be overexpressed in epithelial cells and in periductular collagen fibers. The expression in infants with BA was higher than that in the control group (P < 0.05). The amount of α-SMA in BA was positively correlated with liver fibrosis scores (r = 0.549, P = 0.022). The levels of α-SMA in the liver of BA were negatively related with improvements in direct bilirubin levels, 3 months postoperatively (r = −0.653, P = 0.029). The correlation between the α-SMA and CD-68 expression was not significantly different (r = 0.444, P = 0.057).
Conclusions: The expression of α-SMA in BA liver is higher than that in contro1 group. α-SMA expression is negatively correlated with the reduction of direct bilirubin, 3 months postoperatively, probably due to fibrosis or cirrhosis affecting the entire biliary system.