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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 832943, 17 pages
Review Article

The Sea Lamprey as an Etiological Model for Biliary Atresia

1Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
2Department of Physiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
3College of Osteopathic Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

Received 22 March 2015; Accepted 17 May 2015

Academic Editor: Kim Bridle

Copyright © 2015 Yu-Wen Chung-Davidson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Biliary atresia (BA) is a progressive, inflammatory, and fibrosclerosing cholangiopathy in infants that results in obstruction of both extrahepatic and intrahepatic bile ducts. It is the most common cause for pediatric liver transplantation. In contrast, the sea lamprey undergoes developmental BA with transient cholestasis and fibrosis during metamorphosis, but emerges as a fecund adult with steatohepatitis and fibrosis in the liver. In this paper, we present new histological evidence and compare the sea lamprey to existing animal models to highlight the advantages and possible limitations of using the sea lamprey to study the etiology and compensatory mechanisms of BA and other liver diseases. Understanding the signaling factors and genetic networks underlying lamprey BA can provide insights into BA etiology and possible targets to prevent biliary degeneration and to clear fibrosis. In addition, information from lamprey BA can be used to develop adjunct treatments for patients awaiting or receiving surgical treatments. Furthermore, the cholestatic adult lamprey has unique adaptive mechanisms that can be used to explore potential treatments for cholestasis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).