Primary sclerosing cholangitis associated with rheumatoid arthritis and HLA DR4: is the association a marker of patients with progressive liver disease?
Gow PJ., Fleming KA., Chapman RW.
In four cases we describe the unique association of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In three of the cases the liver disease was unusually progressive, proceeding to cirrhosis in 14, 18 and 48 months from diagnosis. The three cases with progressive liver disease and ulcerative colitis were all HLA type DR4. The fourth patient also suffered from coeliac disease in addition to PSC and RA and has remained asymptomatic over 7 years of follow-up. RA in association with PSC may serve as a clinical marker of patients at high risk of progression to cirrhosis who need to be kept under particularly close observation. In addition, PSC needs to be considered in the differential diagnosis of all patients with RA and cholestatic liver function tests. This is especially important given the link between PSC and an increased risk of colonic carcinoma, and thus the need for surveillance colonoscopy.