Background: Primary sclerosing cholangitis results in elevated but fluctuating serum alkaline phosphatase levels that occasionally return to normal. Aims: To investigate the frequency of normalization of alkaline phosphatase in newly diagnosed primary sclerosing cholangitis patients and the subsequent clinical outcomes. Methods: Records of newly diagnosed primary sclerosing cholangitis patients were examined retrospectively for laboratory values and clinical end points (cholangiocarcinoma, liver transplantation and death) within 10 years of diagnosis. Data from a recent prospective ursodeoxycholic acid treatment trial were also studied. Results: Eighty-seven patients met the inclusion criteria. Normalization of alkaline phosphatase was seen in 35 (40%) patients. Five (14%) patients with normalization reached an end point whereas 17 (33%) of the patients with persistent elevation reached an end point (P= 0.02). Ursodeoxycholic acid was used similarly by both groups. When the investigative criteria were applied to a prospective trial, there was again a significant relationship between normalization of alkaline phosphatase and survival in patients receiving ursodeoxycholic acid (P< 0.01) and the placebo group (P= 0.02). Conclusions: Serum alkaline phosphatase was found to normalize in a high proportion of newly diagnosed primary sclerosing cholangitis patients. This was significantly associated with a better prognosis in a retrospective cohort and when data from a prospective treatment trial was evaluated.
- Alkaline phosphatase
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
- Ursodeoxycholic acid
ASJC Scopus subject areas