Liver and Biliary Injury Research

The Bezerra Laboratory investigates regulatory mechanisms of liver and biliary injury. One major research focus is preclinical and translational research on biliary atresia, the most common cause of chronic liver disease in children. Investigators have used large-scale expression arrays and bioinformatics to develop transcriptional maps for human and murine biliary atresia. These maps generated hypotheses regarding pathogenic mechanisms of disease. Testing these hypotheses in the laboratory, investigators began dissecting the cellular and molecular basis of neonatal injury and obstruction of extrahepatic bile ducts using unique in vitro and experimental models of disease. Experiments identified key regulatory functions for hepatic dendritic cells and CD8+ and NK lymphocytes in recognition and induction of injury to the bile duct epithelium.

Ongoing experiments are identifying costimulatory signals controlling cell survival during early postnatal development and small molecules regulating biliary diseases. In translational studies, investigators are also applying state-of-the-art approaches to identify the molecular determinants of treatment response in multicenter studies of children with biliary atresia and syndromes of intrahepatic cholestasis.