OBJECTIVES: Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a chronic cholestatic liver disease of young adults that is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. No effective medical therapy is available. Minocycline has been found to exert biological effects independent of its antimicrobial properties, including anti-inflammatory activities such as inhibition of inducible nitric oxide synthase, upregulation of interleukin 10, and direct suppressive effect on B- and T-cell function. Minocycline may also inhibit cell death pathways by reducing both proapoptotic and proinflammatory enzyme activation. We sought to investigate the safety and efficacy of minocycline among patients with PSC. METHODS: We evaluated the efficacy of minocycline in patients with PSC in a pilot study. Sixteen patients with PSC were enrolled. Minocycline, 100mg orally twice daily, was given for 1 year. RESULTS: A statistically significant improvement in serum alkaline phosphatase activity (330Ul vs. 265Ul, P0.04) and Mayo risk score (0.55 vs. 0.02, P0.05) occurred with treatment. Serum bilirubin and albumin remained essentially unchanged while on treatment. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this pilot study indicate that minocycline is reasonably well tolerated and potentially effective in patients with PSC. These findings might be explained by the anti-inflammatory and antiapoptotic properties of minocycline. Though the data presented are too preliminary to support the clinical use of minocycline in the treatment of PSC at this time, its use should be further investigated.
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