Reduced Hepatocellular Expression of Canalicular Transport Proteins in Infants with Neonatal Cholestasis and Congenital Hypopituitarism

Tassos Grammatikopoulos, Maesha Deheragoda, Sandra Strautnieks, Lara Neves Souza, Rupert Hinds, Richard J. Thompson, Nedim Hadzic

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Objective: To assess whether prolonged neonatal cholestasis, described in congenital hypopituitarism and septo-optic dysplasia (SOD), is associated with altered expression of selected canalicular ectoenzymes and canalicular transport proteins. Study design: Children with congenital hypopituitarism (n = 21), SOD (n = 18), and cholestasis seen in our center over 26 years were reviewed. Histopathologic findings in archival liver biopsy specimens were assessed (n = 10) and in those with low/normal levels of serum γ-glutamyltransferase (GGT) activity despite conjugated hyperbilirubinemia, expression of canalicular ectoenzymes and canalicular transport proteins was evaluated immunohistochemically. Results: Patients presented at a median age of 8 weeks (range 3-20 weeks) with median total bilirubin 116 µmol/L (45-287 µmol/L), GGT 95 IU/L (25-707 UI/L), and serum cortisol 51 nmol/L (17-240 nmol/L). All but 3 had low free thyroxin (median 9.6 pmol/L [6.8-26.9]) with increased thyroid-stimulating hormone levels (median 5.95 mU/L [<0.1-9.24]). Liver histologic features included moderate-to-severe intralobular cholestasis with nonspecific hepatitis, giant-cell transformation of hepatocytes, and fibrosis. In all, immunohistochemical staining for canalicular ectoenzymes and canalicular transport proteins revealed a degree of reduced expression, associated with normal serum GGT values in 6 of the 10 patients, and another 6 nonbiopsied infants with cholestasis also had low/normal serum GGT activity. Sequencing of ABCB11 and ATP8B1 performed in 6 of the biopsied patients did not identify pathogenic mutations. Following replacement therapy, biochemical evidence of hepatobiliary injury resolved in all children within a median period of 6 months. Conclusion: Hepatobiliary involvement in congenital hypopituitarism associated with SOD has a good prognosis, but its etiology remains uncertain. Immunohistochemical expression of canalicular transport proteins was reduced in available liver samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • canalicular ectoenzymes
  • canalicular transport proteins
  • cholestasis
  • congenital hypopituitarism
  • septo-optic dysplasia

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