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09 - 02 - 2017

Mice to understand infant jaundice

At birth, infants are suddenly exposed to air, rich in oxygen. This causes a transient increase in the degradation of haemoglobin to bilirubin. The latter is naturally degraded by an enzyme. This phenomenon is call the infant jaundice. Unfortunately, this enzyme may be deficient and bilirubin may accumulate causing severe brain damage.

By replacing in mice the murine gene for the enzyme, by the human version, researchers found that the human gene was inhibited by a ‘repressor protein’ resulting in hyperbilirubinemiea. This animal model helps explain the accumulation of bilirubin in some new-borns and could help consider treatments.