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Ann Intern Med. 1997 May 1;126(9):682-8.

Sustained biochemical and histologic remission of primary biliary cirrhosis in response to medical treatment.

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  • 1New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

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.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether primary biliary cirrhosis fully responds to low-dose oral methotrexate therapy.

DESIGN:

Prospective case study with at least 6 years of observation.

SETTING:

Academic medical center.

PATIENTS:

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.

INTERVENTION:

Oral methotrexate, 15 mg/wk in divided doses.

MEASUREMENTS:

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.

RESULTS:

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.

CONCLUSION:

In some patients, primary biliary cirrhosis may remit in response to methotrexate alone or in combination with colchicine or ursodiol.

Comment in

PMID:
9139553
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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