• biliary atresia;
  • biliary epithelial cells;
  • IL-32;
  • innate immunity;
  • TLR


Biliary atresia (BA) is thought to be associated with infections by viruses such as Reoviridae and is characterized histologically by fibrosclerosing cholangitis with proinflammatory cytokine-mediated inflammation. Interleukin (IL)-32 affects the continuous inflammation by increasing the production of proinflammatory cytokines. In this study, the role of IL-32 in the cholangitis of BA was examined. Immunohistochemistry for IL-32 and caspase 1 was performed using 21 samples of extrahepatic bile ducts resected from BA patients. Moreover, using cultured human biliary epithelial cells (BECs), the expression of IL-32 and its induction on stimulation with a Toll-like receptor [(TLR)-3 ligand (poly(I:C)] and proinflammatory cytokines was examined. BECs composing extrahepatic bile ducts showing cholangitis expressed IL-32 in BA, but not in controls. Caspase 1 was expressed constantly on BECs of both BA and control subjects. Furthermore, poly(I:C) and proinflammatory cytokines [(IL-1β, interferon (IFN)-γ and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α] induced IL-32 expression strongly in cultured BECs, accompanying the constant expression of TLR-3 and caspase 1. Our results imply that the expression of IL-32 in BECs was found in the damaged bile ducts of BA and induced by biliary innate immunity via TLR-3 and proinflammatory cytokines. These findings suggest that IL-32 is involved initially in the pathogenic mechanisms of cholangitis in BA and also plays an important role in the amplification and continuance of periductal inflammatory reactions. It is therefore tempting to speculate that inhibitors of IL-32 could be useful for attenuating cholangitis in BA.