Characteristics of congenital hepatic fibrosis in a large cohort of patients with autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease

Gastroenterology. 2013 Jan;144(1):112-121.e2. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2012.09.056. Epub 2012 Oct 3.


Background & aims: Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD), the most common ciliopathy of childhood, is characterized by congenital hepatic fibrosis and progressive cystic degeneration of kidneys. We aimed to describe congenital hepatic fibrosis in patients with ARPKD, confirmed by detection of mutations in PKHD1.

Methods: Patients with ARPKD and congenital hepatic fibrosis were evaluated at the National Institutes of Health from 2003 to 2009. We analyzed clinical, molecular, and imaging data from 73 patients (age, 1-56 years; average, 12.7 ± 13.1 years) with kidney and liver involvement (based on clinical, imaging, or biopsy analyses) and mutations in PKHD1.

Results: Initial symptoms were liver related in 26% of patients, and others presented with kidney disease. One patient underwent liver and kidney transplantation, and 10 others received kidney transplants. Four presented with cholangitis and one with variceal bleeding. Sixty-nine percent of patients had enlarged left lobes on magnetic resonance imaging, 92% had increased liver echogenicity on ultrasonography, and 65% had splenomegaly. Splenomegaly started early in life; 60% of children younger than 5 years had enlarged spleens. Spleen volume had an inverse correlation with platelet count and prothrombin time but not with serum albumin level. Platelet count was the best predictor of spleen volume (area under the curve of 0.88905), and spleen length corrected for patient's height correlated inversely with platelet count (R(2) = 0.42, P < .0001). Spleen volume did not correlate with renal function or type of PKHD1 mutation. Twenty-two of 31 patients who underwent endoscopy were found to have varices. Five had variceal bleeding, and 2 had portosystemic shunts. Forty-percent had Caroli syndrome, and 30% had an isolated dilated common bile duct.

Conclusions: Platelet count is the best predictor of the severity of portal hypertension, which has early onset but is underdiagnosed in patients with ARPKD. Seventy percent of patients with ARPKD have biliary abnormalities. Kidney and liver disease are independent, and variability in severity is not explainable by type of PKHD1 mutation; number, NCT00068224.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Magnetic Resonance
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Portal / blood
  • Hypertension, Portal / complications
  • Hypertension, Portal / physiopathology*
  • Infant
  • Kidney Transplantation
  • Liver Cirrhosis / congenital*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Cirrhosis / genetics
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology*
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Organ Size
  • Platelet Count
  • Polycystic Kidney, Autosomal Recessive / complications
  • Polycystic Kidney, Autosomal Recessive / genetics*
  • Portal Pressure
  • Prothrombin Time
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics*
  • Serum Albumin
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Splenomegaly / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color
  • Young Adult
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / blood


  • PKHD1 protein, human
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Serum Albumin
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase

Associated data