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BackgroundPrimary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is an immune-mediated, chronic cholestatic liver disease. Currently, liver transplantation is the only established life-saving treatment. Several studies have evaluated the effect of different biologic therapies on PSC with inconclusive findings. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the effects of biologics in PSC and associated inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).MethodsMEDLINE, Scopus, and Embase were searched up to July 31, 2023, for studies reporting the effects of biologics in patients with PSC-IBD. Effects of biologic therapy on alkaline phosphatase, total bilirubin, ulcerative colitis response score, and adverse events were calculated and expressed as standardized difference of means (SMD), proportions, and 95% CI using a random-effects model.ResultsSix studies, including 411 PSC-IBD patients who received biologics, were included. Biologic treatment was associated with no change in alkaline phosphatase (SMD: 0.1, 95% CI: -0.07 -0.17, p=0.43), but a small and statistically significant increase in total bilirubin (SMD: 0.2, 95% CI: 0.05-0.35, p<0.01). 31.2% (95% CI: 23.8-39.7) of patients with IBD achieved endoscopic response, and there was a significant improvement in ulcerative colitis response score (SMD: -0.6,95% CI: -0.88 to 0.36, p<0.01). Furthermore, 17.6% (95% CI: 13.0-23.5) of patients experienced adverse events severe enough to discontinue therapy, and 29.9% (95% CI: 25.2-34.8) had a loss of response to biologics.ConclusionsTreatment of patients with PSC-IBD with biologics (vedolizumab, infliximab, and adalimumab) was not associated with improvement of biochemical markers of cholestasis. Biologics are effective in treating the colitis associated with PSC. Vedolizumab was associated with worsening liver enzymes in contrast to other biologics, a finding that warrants further study.

Original publication




Journal article


Hepatology communications

Publication Date





The University of Queensland, Faculty of Medicine, Australia.


Humans, Cholestasis, Cholangitis, Sclerosing, Colitis, Ulcerative, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Bilirubin, Alkaline Phosphatase, Biological Products