Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a chronic cholestatic liver disease of presumed autoimmune etiology affecting predominantly middle-aged women; it is a slowly progressive disease causing loss of intrahepatic bile ducts, resulting in advanced fibrosis, cirrhosis, and liver failure. Many drugs have been studied for treatment, including agents with choleretic and immunosuppressive properties. Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) has been evaluated most widely. After liver failure, the only effective treatment is liver transplantation. Effective therapy reduces the need for transplantation and improves life expectancy. For advanced liver disease or incomplete response to UDCA, new therapies to cure or retard the progression of disease in PBC are needed.
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