Primary biliary cholangitis

Ana Lleo, Giu-Qiang Wang, Merrill Eric Gershwin, Gideon M Hirschfield

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Primary biliary cholangitis is an autoimmune liver disease that predominantly affects women. It is characterised by a chronic and destructive, small bile duct, granulomatous lymphocytic cholangitis, with typical seroreactivity for antimitochondrial antibodies. Patients have variable risks of progressive ductopenia, cholestasis, and biliary fibrosis. Considerations for the cause of this disease emphasise an interaction of chronic immune damage with biliary epithelial cell responses and encompass complex, poorly understood genetic risks and environmental triggers. Licensed disease-modifying treatment focuses on amelioration of cholestasis, with weight-dosed oral ursodeoxycholic acid. For patients who do not respond sufficiently, or patients with ursodeoxycholic acid intolerance, conditionally licensed add-on therapy is with the FXR (NR1H4) agonist, obeticholic acid. Off-label therapy is recognised as an alternative, notably with the pan-PPAR agonist bezafibrate; clinical trial agents are also under development. Baseline characteristics, such as young age, male sex, and advanced disease, and serum markers of liver injury, particularly bilirubin and ALP, are used to stratify risk and assess treatment responsiveness. Parallel attention to the burden of patient symptoms is paramount, including pruritus and fatigue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1915-1926
Number of pages12
JournalLancet (London, England)
Issue number10266
Publication statusPublished - Dec 12 2020


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