A Novel Protective Mechanism in the Bile Ducts of Patients with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

Principal Investigator: Richard M. Green, MD

A chronic bile duct and liver disease, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) affects more than 50,000 Americans and can progress to cirrhosis, liver failure, and bile duct cancer. Currently, the only effective therapy is liver transplantation. Better understanding the pathogenesis of PSC is urgently needed to develop new therapies. In recent cell culture and animal studies, Dr. Green and his colleagues focused on a protective cell signaling pathway: the unfolded protein response (UPR). They found that the UPR is activated when bile flow is impaired, and mice lacking UPR genes in their liver are highly susceptible to injury from bile duct obstruction. Now moving forward with the first human investigations examining UPR, Dr. Green aims to determine how it is activated in the bile ducts of patients with PSC. The team plans to study bile duct tissues obtained during endoscopic procedures performed for bile duct obstruction. The identification of “protective” genes and proteins could lead to new drug targets and, ultimately, the development of novel medical therapies.


Posted on

November 5, 2018