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Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a chronic, cholestatic liver disease caused by diffuse inflammation and fibrosis that can involve the entire biliary tree. It is a progressive disorder which can ultimately lead to biliary cirrhosis, portal hypertension and hepatic failure. PSC is a complex genetic disorder with male predominance. Environmental predisposing factors include non-smoking. It is closely associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), particularly ulcerative colitis, which occurs in about two thirds of PSC cases. Recent studies have suggested that PSC-IBD is a separate disease entity from IBD alone with distinctive genetic and phenotypic characteristics. Most PSC patients are asymptomatic at presentation; clinical symptoms include fatigue, jaundice, weight loss, right upper quadrant pain and pruritis. Serum biochemical tests indicate cholestasis, and diagnosis is usually established by cholangiography. In symptomatic patients, median survival from presentation to death or liver transplantation is about 12 years. It is a premalignant condition, and the majority of deaths are from malignancy, particularly cholangiocarcinoma or colonic cancer. PSC has no curative treatment. Medical treatment with ursodeoxycholic acid may slow progression of the disease and reduce colonic dysplasia, though trials lack statistical significance. Liver transplantation is the only option in young patients with PSC and advanced liver disease.

Original publication




Journal article


Dig Dis

Publication Date





438 - 445


Cholangitis, Sclerosing, Disease Progression, Humans, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Osteoporosis