Divergent patterns of extracellular matrix protein expression in neonatal versus adult liver fibrosis

Leonid Zeitlin, Murray B. Resnick, Fred Konikoff, Delphan Schuppan, Yoram Bujanover, Aaron Lerner, Amir Belson, Beatriz Lifschitz, Shimon Reif*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The extracellular matrix (ECM) expression is subject to distinct changes during ontogeny, and the natural course of liver fibrosis in neonates is thought to differ from that in adults. We compared the expression and distribution of main ECM components between neonatal and adult liver fibrosis. Liver biopsies from infants with neonatal cholestasis and fibrosis were compared to adult biopsies exhibiting an equivalent stage of fibrosis. All biopsies were examined by immunohistochemistry (indirect ABC method) for the ECM protiens, collagens I, III, IV, and VI, laminin, and fibronectin. Infacts (aged 1-8 months) with neonatal hepatitis (n = 3), extrahepetic biliary atresia (EHBA) (n = 5), and normal histology (n = 2) were compared with 9 adults (aged 17-70 years) with chronic hepatitis (n = 3), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) (n = 4), and normal histology (n = 2). Collagens I, III, and IV and fibronectin were significantly increased in neonatal hepatitis with mild fibrosis (score ≤ 4) compared to adults with an equivalent fibrosis stage. This increase was particularly notable in perisinusoidal spaces. Laminin expression was increased in portal and perisinusoidal spaces both in neonatal hepatitis and extrahepatic biliarv atresia with mild fibrosis. In infants with moderate to severe fibrosis (score ≥ 6), only collagen I was increased in comparison to adults, whereas collogen VI expression was identical in all groups, irrespective of the degree of fibrosis. Expression of matrix proteins was not different in infants and adults without fibrosis. The increased perisinusoidal deposition of certain ECM components in infants with active hepatitis and mild fibrosis may point to an underlying diffirence in the mechanism of stimulus of fibrogenesis in neonates as compared to adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-362
Number of pages14
JournalPediatric Pathology and Molecular Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2003


  • ECM
  • Fibrosis
  • Immunohistochemistry


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