Marshall M. Kaplan, MD; Ronald A. DeLellis, MD; Hubert J. Wolfe, MD
Treatment of primary biliary cirrhosis with ursodiol or colchicine may stabilize the disease or slow its rate of progression, but no reports of spontaneous or treatment-related remission have been published.
To determine whether primary biliary cirrhosis fully responds to low-dose oral methotrexate therapy.
Prospective case study with at least 6 years of observation.
Academic medical center.
5 of 19 patients with biopsy-proven precirrhotic primary biliary cirrhosis who had been ill for at least 1 year. Three of the 5 had not responded to colchicine or had responded only partially.
Oral methotrexate, 15 mg/wk in divided doses.
Symptoms, biochemical tests of liver function, and percutaneous liver biopsies. The latter were done at baseline, 1 to 2 years after initiation of methotrexate therapy, and then every 2 to 3 years during methotrexate therapy.
All 5 patients completely responded to medical treatment. Results of biochemical tests of liver function became normal, symptoms remitted, and serial liver biopsy specimens showed progressive histologic improvement. Biopsy specimens obtained after 5 to 12 years of treatment showed few signs of primary biliary cirrhosis and, in 3 patients, were close to normal. Five of the other 14 patients have responded biochemically and have shown histologic improvement; the other 9 have not responded to methotrexate therapy, have discontinued therapy, or have been lost to follow-up.
In some patients, primary biliary cirrhosis may remit in response to methotrexate alone or in combination with colchicine or ursodiol.
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Kaplan MM, DeLellis RA, Wolfe HJ. Sustained Biochemical and Histologic Remission of Primary Biliary Cirrhosis in Response to Medical Treatment. Ann Intern Med. 1997;126:682-688. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-126-9-199705010-00002
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1997;126(9):682-688.
Biliary Disorders, Gastroenterology/Hepatology, Liver Disease.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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