SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574
BACKGROUND: Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is related to biliary disease, being cholestatic in its own right. It has also been associated with intrahepatic bile duct destruction and duct paucity, indicating a possible role in the pathogenesis and progression of extrahepatic biliary atresia (BA). BA patients who are CMV-IgM-positive appear to have greater liver damage than uninfected patients, consequently affecting outcome. METHODS: We reviewed the medical records of 74 patients diagnosed with hepatobiliary disease between 2000 and 2011, assessing clinical outcome and potential risk factors. Patients, categorised into those with and those without BA, were compared in terms of CMV infection. RESULTS: The 74 patients included 39 (52%) BA and 35 non-BA patients; following the exclusion of patients due to insufficient data, 27 (69%) BA and 31 non-BA patients were reviewed. Twenty-one (78%) BA patients were CMV-positive (IgM/IgG), including 20 IgM-positive patients versus 8 in the non-BA group (p<0.01). Two (7.5%) CMV-IgM-positive BA infants were HIV-exposed versus 7 (35%) in the non-BA group (p<0.01). Long-term outcomes included 3 deaths in the non-HIV CMV-positive group and a higher rate of severe early liver damage, suggesting a poorer outcome in CMV-affected patients. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest a correlation between CMV exposure/infection and BA which affects clinical outcome. HIV-positivity does not preclude BA and should be investigated further.