What is the role of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) in the treatment of primary biliary cholangitis (PBC)?

Updated: Nov 08, 2017
  • Author: Nikolaos T Pyrsopoulos, MD, PhD, MBA, FACP, AGAF; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is the major medication used to slow the progression of the disease. Patients with early disease have clinical, biochemical, and histologic improvement. Reports suggest that UDCA delays the need for transplantation and delays death. The efficacy of this medication in late stages (ie, cirrhosis) is questionable. Patients who achieve biochemical response to UDCA after 1 year of treatment reportedly have a similar survival rate to the matched control population, and this observation might be used to identify the population of nonresponders who will require alternative or additional treatments. The use of UDCA after transplantation with evidence of recurrence of the disease has been associated with biochemical response, although its role in delaying histologic progression needs further investigation. [10, 11]


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