Digestive Health Center

  • Chronic Liver Disease

    Stephen D. Zucker, MD
    Associate Professor
    Gastroenterology Fellowship Program Director
    Department of Internal Medicine; Division of Digestive Diseases

    Description of Research

    The focus of Dr. Zucker’s research is on elucidating the physiological functions of unconjugated bilirubin. Current work specifically examines the role of bilirubin both as an endogenous anti-inflammatory agent and in the chemoprevention of colorectal cancer. Dr. Zucker has demonstrated that bilirubin decreases the viability of colon cancer cells in vitro through the induction of apoptosis, and that this effect is mediated through activation of the mitochondrial pathway. Bilirubin treatment is well tolerated in vivo, and is associated with a marked reduction in tumor number in animal models. It is anticipated that his ongoing studies will provide new insight into the role that bilirubin plays in the regulation of inflammation and in the modulation of intestinal tumorigenesis.

    Collaborations and Core Use

    Dr. Zucker collaborates with Dr. Sherman on studies examining the association between serum bilirubin levels and the incidence of colorectal cancer and the effect of highly active retroviral therapy on the hepatic metabolism of drugs and xenobiotics. Projection of Core use: Integrative Morphology Core.

  • Research image.

    click image to enlarge

    Research image.

    Impact of bilirubin on small intestine histology and microadenoma formation. Sections of small (A) and large (B) intestines from bilirubin-treated mice demonstrate normal histological architecture; panels C–E display microadenomas in the small intestine of control and bilirubin-treated APC Min/+ mice, respectively. Panel F shows a box and whisker plot of the number of microadenomas per cm of distal small intestine. From Carcinogenesis, 2010; 31:1100-1109.