Vanishing Bile Ducts in the Long Term after Pediatric Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

Natalia Maximova, Aurelio Sonzogni, Lorenza Matarazzo, Arianna Ghirardi, Lorenzo D'Antiga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There are no structured studies on liver histology after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). We aimed to prospectively describe the clinicopathologic features of liver disease in the long term after HSCT in an observational, longitudinal study of liver histology in a consecutive cohort of children undergoing allogeneic HSCT. First liver biopsy was performed in presence of abnormal liver function tests and repeated per protocol thereafter. A previously reported semiquantitative score evaluating inflammation, cholestasis, and ductopenia (bile ducts-to-portal tracts ratio ≤.5) was adopted. Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) was diagnosed according to standard criteria. We evaluated 131 biopsies taken in 50 HSCTs performed in 47 children (mean age, 9.7 ± 5.2 years). Pre-HSCT chemotherapy was administered in 36 of 50 (72%). GVHD was diagnosed in 17 of 50 (34%). Over time the overall score decreased from a mean of 6 ± 2.7 to 3.25 ±.96 (P <.01), inflammation from 1.22 ± 1.19 to 1 ± 0 (not significant), and cholestasis from 3.9 ± 2.08 to 1.5 ±.58 (P <.01). Ductopenia, found in 113 of 131 biopsies (93%), worsened from.63 ±.35 to.16 ±.14 (P <.01). On multivariate analysis severe ductopenia (ratio ≤.2) was associated with previous chemotherapy (P =.04), in particular with thiotepa, but not with history of GVHD. Vanishing bile duct syndrome after HSCT may be due to drug-induced liver disease. Longer follow-up will reveal whether these patients are prone to late liver-related morbidity and mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2250-2258
Number of pages9
JournalBiology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Children
  • Drug-induced liver injury
  • Graft-versus-host disease
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
  • Liver disease
  • Vanishing bile duct syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Transplantation


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