Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a chronic cholestatic autoimmune liver disease that predominantly affects middle-aged women. It is characterized by slowly progressive destruction of the small intrahepatic bile ducts together with portal inflammation, and this initially leads to fibrosis and later to cirrhosis. It is currently accepted that the pathogenesis of PBC is multifactorial with genetic and environmental factors interplaying to determine the disease onset and progression. In addition to antimitochondrial antibody (AMA), which is the hallmark of PBC and is detected in at least 90% of the patients, other autoantibodies (antinuclear antibody, anti-smooth muscle antibody and rheumatoid factor, etc.) may also be found in the patients. There is no correlation between the titer of AMAs and the disease severity. Most patients are diagnosed either during the asymptomatic phase of PBC or after presenting with non-specific symptoms. Pruritus and fatigue are the most common symptoms of PBC. The prognosis of PBC has improved significantly during the last few decades. Patients are now diagnosed earlier in its clinical course, they are more likely to be asymptomatic at diagnosis and they are more likely to receive medical treatment. A wide variety of drugs have been assessed for the treatment of this condition: such immunosuppressive agents as corticosteroids, cyclosporine and azathioprine have a weak effect on the disease's natural history. Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is the only currently approved medical treatment. For PBC patients with end-stage liver disease or an unacceptable quality of life, liver transplantation is the only accepted therapeutic option. Early diagnosis and treatment of PBC are important because effective treatment with UDCA has been shown to delay disease progression and improve rate survival in the early stage.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||The Korean journal of hepatology|
|Publication status||Published - 2006 Sep|
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