Natural history of liver disease in a large international cohort of children with Alagille syndrome: Results from the GALA study

Hepatology. 2023 Feb 1;77(2):512-529. doi: 10.1002/hep.32761. Epub 2022 Oct 13.


Background and aims: Alagille syndrome (ALGS) is a multisystem disorder, characterized by cholestasis. Existing outcome data are largely derived from tertiary centers, and real-world data are lacking. This study aimed to elucidate the natural history of liver disease in a contemporary, international cohort of children with ALGS.

Approach and results: This was a multicenter retrospective study of children with a clinically and/or genetically confirmed ALGS diagnosis, born between January 1997 and August 2019. Native liver survival (NLS) and event-free survival rates were assessed. Cox models were constructed to identify early biochemical predictors of clinically evident portal hypertension (CEPH) and NLS. In total, 1433 children (57% male) from 67 centers in 29 countries were included. The 10 and 18-year NLS rates were 54.4% and 40.3%. By 10 and 18 years, 51.5% and 66.0% of children with ALGS experienced ≥1 adverse liver-related event (CEPH, transplant, or death). Children (>6 and ≤12 months) with median total bilirubin (TB) levels between ≥5.0 and <10.0 mg/dl had a 4.1-fold (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.6-10.8), and those ≥10.0 mg/dl had an 8.0-fold (95% CI, 3.4-18.4) increased risk of developing CEPH compared with those <5.0 mg/dl. Median TB levels between ≥5.0 and <10.0 mg/dl and >10.0 mg/dl were associated with a 4.8 (95% CI, 2.4-9.7) and 15.6 (95% CI, 8.7-28.2) increased risk of transplantation relative to <5.0 mg/dl. Median TB <5.0 mg/dl were associated with higher NLS rates relative to ≥5.0 mg/dl, with 79% reaching adulthood with native liver ( p < 0.001).

Conclusions: In this large international cohort of ALGS, only 40.3% of children reach adulthood with their native liver. A TB <5.0 mg/dl between 6 and 12 months of age is associated with better hepatic outcomes. These thresholds provide clinicians with an objective tool to assist with clinical decision-making and in the evaluation of therapies.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alagille Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cholestasis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Portal* / etiology
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies