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Transplantation. 1998 May 27;65(10):1328-33.

Histological features predictive of recurrence of primary biliary cirrhosis after liver transplantation.

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Service d'Anatomie Pathologique, Hôpital Paul Brousse, Villejuif, France.



Recurrence of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) within liver allografts remains a controversial issue. The aims of this study were to evaluate this risk and to determine the presence, if any, of a predictive histological feature.


We reviewed the most recent and the 1-year protocol liver biopsies of 69 patients who received transplants for PBC and of 53 control patients. Histological features consistent with PBC recurrence included nonsuppurative destructive cholangitis, mixed portal infiltrate, fibrosis, and ductopenia. A complete evaluation was undertaken in each patient with these histological features.


These histological features were present in six patients who received transplants for PBC (8.7% vs. 0% in the control group) and occurred between 1 and 8 years after transplant. In five of the six patients, anti-mitochondrial antibody-2 (anti-M2) antibodies remained at high titers. Cholestasis was present in four patients, and clinical symptoms in two patients. All six patients were negative for hepatitis C antibodies and hepatitis C RNA in their serum. None had bile duct obstruction. The presence of plasma cells in the portal infiltrate at 1 year after transplant was predictive of this risk of recurrence.


The risk of PBC recurrence is real (8.7%). The presence of plasma cells in the portal infiltrate seems to be an early marker of recurrence of PBC in patients transplanted for this indication.

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