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Can J Gastroenterol. 1997 Apr;11(3):229-33.

Late recurrent post-transplant primary biliary cirrhosis in British Columbia.

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Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.


Late recurrent primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) following orthotopic liver transplant remains a controversial topic. The first documented case of recurrence occurring in 16 patients transplanted for PBC and followed at the authors' institution for longer than one year is presented. A 54-year-old man transplanted for PBC developed a cholestatic pattern of enzyme elevation on post-transplant day (PTD) 1305. Repeat antimitochondrial antibody was strongly positive (1:300 to 1:400). A liver biopsy revealed severe bile duct damage, lymphocytic cholangitis, focal periductal noncaseating granuloma and minimal endotheliitis. Recurrent PBC was diagnosed. At the time of orthotopic liver transplant this patient received induction immunosuppression with OKT3 crossed over to cyclosporine (CsA), azathioprine (AZA) and prednisone. AZA was discontinued early and maintenance CsA tapered to a target trough level of 150 to 200 ng/mL by PTD 365. Prednisone was withdrawn by PTD 664. CsA levels during PTDs 1225 to 1305 (before elevation of hepatobiliary enzymes) were below target at 114 to 166 ng/mL. Of the 16 patients, all but three were maintained on CsA, AZA and prednisone. One was on CsA (trough levels on target) and AZA; the other two, including the patient with recurrent PBC, were on CsA only. The trough CsA level of the patient without recurrent PBC has been within the target range. The authors speculate that the underlying defect in immunoregulation in PBC persists post-transplant and that in the patient without recurrent PBC this defect was unmasked by lowered maintenance immunosuppression--allowing recurrence of PBC in a previously stable liver allograft.

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