Biliary atresia (BA) is a neonatal cholestatic liver disease that is the leading cause of pediatric liver transplantation, however, the mechanism of disease remains unknown. There are two major forms of BA: isolated BA (iBA) comprises the majority of cases and is thought to result from an aberrant immune response to an environmental trigger, whereas syndromic BA (BASM) has associated malformations and is thought to arise from a congenital insult. To determine whether B cells in BA biliary remnants are antigen driven, we examined the immunoglobulin (Ig) repertoire of diseased tissue from each BA group. Deep sequencing of the Ig chain DNA was performed on iBA and BASM biliary remnants and lymph nodes obtained from the Childhood Liver Disease Research Network (ChiLDReN) repository. Statistical analysis of the Ig repertoire provided measures of Ig clonality and the Ig phenotype. Our data demonstrate that B cells infiltrate diseased iBA and BASM biliary remnant tissue. The Ig repertoires of iBA and BASM disease groups were oligoclonal supporting a role for an antigen-driven immune response in both sub-types. These findings shift the current understanding of BA and suggest a role for antigen stimulation in early iBA and BASM disease pathogenesis.
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