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Isolated Hepatocyte Transplantation for Crigler-Najjar Syndrome Type 1

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Crigler-Najjar syndrome type 1 (CN1) is an inherited disorder characterized by the absence of hepatic uridine diphosphoglucuronate glucuronosyltransferase (UDPGT), the enzyme responsible for the conjugation and excretion of bilirubin. We performed allogenic hepatocyte transplantation (AHT) in a child with CN1, aiming to improve bilirubin glucuronidation in this condition. A 9-year-old boy with CN1 was prepared with plasmapheresis and immunosuppression with prednisolone and tacrolimus. When a graft was made available, 7.5 × 109 hepatocytes were isolated and infused into the portal vein percutaneously. After 2 weeks phenobarbitone was added to promote the enzymatic activity of UDPGT of the transplanted hepatocytes. Nocturnal phototherapy was continued throughout the studied period. Total bilirubin was considered a reliable marker of allogenic cell function. There was no significant variation of vital signs nor complications during the infusion. Mean ± SD bilirubin level was 530 ± 38 μmol/L before and 359 ± 46 μmol/L after AHT (t-test, p < 0.001). However, the introduction of phenobarbitone was followed by a drop of tacrolimus level with increase of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and increase of bilirubin. After standard treatment of cellular rejection bilirubin fell again but from then on it was maintained at a greater level. After discharge the patient experienced a further increase of bilirubin that returned to predischarge levels after readmission to the hospital. This was interpreted as poor compliance with phototherapy. Only partial correction of clinical jaundice and the poor tolerability to nocturnal phototherapy led the parents to refuse further hepatocyte infusions and request an orthotopic liver transplant. After 24 months the child is well, with good liver function on tacrolimus and prednisolone-based immunosuppression. Isolated AHT, though effective and safe, is not sufficient to correct CN1. Maintenance of adequate immunosuppression and family compliance are the main factors hampering the success of this procedure.
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Keywords: Crigler-Najjar syndrome; Enzyme replacement therapy; Hepatocyte transplantation; Uridine diphosphoglucuronate glucuronosyltransferase

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Surgery and Gastroenterological Science, University of Padova, Padova, Italy 2: Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 3: Department of Paediatrics, University of Padova, Padova, Italy 4: Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Padova, Padova, Italy 5: Department of Radiology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy 6: Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, University of Padova, Padova, Italy 7: Department of Pathology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

Publication date: 01 February 2005

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

    Cell Transplantation is now being published by SAGE. Please visit their website for the most recent issues.

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