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J Hepatol. 1987 Aug;5(1):1-7.

A controlled trial of colchicine in primary biliary cirrhosis. Trial design and preliminary report.

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University Department of Gastroenterology, Manchester Royal Infirmary, U.K.


Colchicine (1 mg/day), or an identical placebo, was given to 64 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis in a double-blind controlled trial. Due to a novel, pair-matched trial design, the two groups were exceptionally well matched at entry. In comparison with placebo, colchicine produced a beneficial effect on serum albumin and bilirubin levels at 3 months in patients who had abnormal liver function (bilirubin greater than 20 mumol/l) at entry: (albumin, P = 0.047; bilirubin, P = 0.022). In patients with normal liver function at entry (bilirubin less than 20 mumol/l), beneficial effects were noted on total globulin levels at 3 months (P = 0.013) and on immunoglobulin G levels at 3 and 6 months (P = 0.044 and 0.001, respectively). At 18 months, survival estimate in the colchicine and placebo groups were 84% and 69%, respectively. The difference did not reach significance. Colchicine produced an early improvement in liver function and immunoglobulin levels. Few serious side effects were encountered, and colchicine clearly merits long-term study in the treatment of primary biliary cirrhosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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