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J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1993 Mar-Apr;8(2):168-73.

Pruritus and cholestasis: therapeutic options.

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Bruce Hall Department of Gastroenterology, St Vincents Hospital, Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia.


The pathogenesis of pruritus of cholestasis remains unclear. Bile salts do not appear to be the sole prurogens in cholestasis. Histaminergic pathways may be involved, and central opiate receptor processes seem much more important than has previously been recognized. The therapeutic options for relief of cholestatic pruritus are summarized in Table 2. Resins such as cholestyramine are the first line of therapy. In cases where cholestyramine has failed, rifampicin and antihistamines may be beneficial. Opiate antagonists hold great potential if opioid withdrawal-like syndromes can be avoided. Ursodeoxycholic acid and methotrexate have an advantage in not only relieving pruritus but also potentially retarding disease progression in PBC and PSC, respectively, although this remains to be proved. Other agents such as EPO and SAMe remain experimental and require further study to clarify their effectiveness before they can be recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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