STEPHEN P. JAMES, M.D.; JAY H. HOOFNAGLE, M.D.; WARREN STROBER, M.D.; E. ANTHONY JONES, M.D.
Primary biliary cirrhosis is characterized by chronic inflammation and necrosis of the intrahepatic bile ducts and by chronic cholestasis. The presence of autoantibodies in serum, the association of this disease with other autoimmune diseases, the histologic appearance of typical hepatic lesions, the presence of bile duct lesions that resemble those seen in chronic graftversus-host disease, and the possible recurrence of a chronic cholestatic syndrome in patients having hepatic transplants indicate that immune mechanisms play a role in the syndrome's pathogenesis. Patients have diminished function of suppressor T cells that may be due to abnormal activation of suppressor T cells caused by interactions with autologous non-T cells. This nonspecific immunologic defect and other immune defects may cause the autoimmune manifestations of primary biliary cirrhosis. Treatments to arrest the disease's progress have included corticosteroids, azathioprine, cyclosporin, and D-penicillamine. These treatments, which affect immune functions, have not had a beneficial effect on the disease process. Better understanding of the pathogenesis of primary biliary cirrhosis is needed to develop specific immunotherapies.
JAMES SP, HOOFNAGLE JH, STROBER W, JONES EA. Primary Biliary Cirrhosis: A Model Autoimmune Disease. Ann Intern Med. ;99:500–512. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-99-4-500
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1983;99(4):500-512.
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