A slow progressive autoimmune disorder that causes bile duct destruction and eventual cirrhosis.
Bile duct tubules in the liver allow drainage of bile acids (formed from liver cells). In PBC, chronic inflammation of the bile ducts cause build-up of these bile acids that lead to fibrous tissue and scarring in the liver, and eventual cirrhosis. Progressive damage to the liver may eventually lead to liver failure.
Who Gets PBC?
PBC occurs more often in women than in men with a 10-fold increase, especially in Northern Europe and the United States. The reason that PBC will affect certain individuals may be due to a genetic pre-disposition, however this alone is not the cause. Some speculate unknown or undefined environmental factor may contribute. These can include possibly viruses, toxins, bacterial infections, and/or hormones.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms are often vague and not specific for this disorder. Fatigue occurs in greater than 80%, itching without rash can also be common, and vague abdominal discomfort and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin).
How is PBC discovered?
Your doctor may discover liver test abnormalities on routine blood screen. These tests may be done as a routine physical. An antibody blood test called the antimitochondrial antibody is present in 95% of the cases.
Are there treatments for PBC?
Currently Ursodeoxycholic acid or UBCA, is the only approved therapy for PBC. Several studies have shown improved liver chemistries, as well as increased survival in those who take the medication. Other individual symptoms such as itching can be treated with various medications that prove overall satisfaction.
With the advancement of PBC, there may come a time when there is a need for a liver transplant. Overall, transplantation is patients with PBC do very well.
Be proactive about your health and make your appointment to be screened today!