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World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Nov 14;19(42):7327-40. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i42.7327.

Hepatobiliary manifestations in inflammatory bowel disease: the gut, the drugs and the liver.

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  • 1María Rojas-Feria, Manuel Castro, Emilio Suárez, Javier Ampuero, Manuel Romero-Gómez, Unit for Medical and Surgical Management of Digestive Diseases and CIBERehd, Valme University Hospital, University of Seville, E-41014 Sevilla, Spain.


Abnormal liver biochemical tests are present in up to 30% of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and therefore become a diagnostic challenge. Liver and biliary tract diseases are common extraintestinal manifestations for both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), and typically do not correlate with intestinal activity. Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is the most common hepatobiliary manifestation of IBD, and is more prevalent in UC. Approximately 5% of patients with UC develop PSC, with the prevalence reaching up to 90%. Cholangiocarcinoma and colon cancer risks are increased in these patients. Less common disorders include autoimmune hepatitis/PSC overlap syndrome, IgG4-associated cholangiopathy, primary biliary cirrhosis, hepatic amyloidosis, granulomatous hepatitis, cholelithiasis, portal vein thrombosis, liver abscess, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Hepatitis B reactivation during immunosuppressive therapy is a major concern, with screening and vaccination being recommended in serologically negative cases for patients with IBD. Reactivation prophylaxis with entecavir or tenofovir for 6 to 12 mo after the end of immunosuppressive therapy is mandatory in patients showing as hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positive, independently from viral load. HBsAg negative and anti-HBc positive patients, with or without anti-HBs, should be closely monitored, measuring alanine aminotransferase and hepatitis B virus DNA within 12 mo after the end of therapy, and should be treated if the viral load increases. On the other hand, immunosuppressive therapy does not seem to promote reactivation of hepatitis C, and hepatitis C antiviral treatment does not influence IBD natural history either. Most of the drugs used for IBD treatment may induce hepatotoxicity, although the incidence of serious adverse events is low. Abnormalities in liver biochemical tests associated with aminosalicylates are uncommon and are usually not clinically relevant. Methotrexate-related hepatotoxicity has been described in 14% of patients with IBD, in a dose-dependent manner. Liver biopsy is not routinely recommended. Biologics-related hepatotoxicity is rare, but has been shown most frequently in patients treated with infliximab. Thiopurines have been associated with veno-occlusive disease, regenerative nodular hyperplasia, and liver peliosis. Routine liver biochemical tests are recommended, especially during the first month of treatment. All these conditions should be considered in IBD patients with clinical or biochemical features suggestive of hepatobiliary involvement. Diagnosis and management of these disorders usually involve hepatologists and gastroenterologists due to its complexity.


Drug-induced liver injury; Extraintestinal manifestations; Hepatitis B; Hepatitis C; Hepatobiliary disorders; Hepatotoxicity; Inflammatory bowel disease; Primary sclerosing cholangitis

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