What is Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC)?

April 06, 2021
What is Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC)?

Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is a chronic liver disease resulting from progressive inflammation and destruction of the interlobular bile ducts. PBC typically affects women more frequently than men and is believed to have an autoimmune component. When bile ducts are damaged, the bile builds up in the liver contributing to inflammation and fibrosis (scarring). This can eventually lead to permanent liver damage and/or failure.

Approximately 25% of patients with PBC are women younger than 40 years of age, and about 10% of patients are men. According to the American Liver Foundation, an estimated 65 out of every 100,000 women have PBC in the United States.

What causes PBC?

Unfortunately, the exact cause of PBC is unknown. Some researchers believe it may be an autoimmune disorder, as many people with PBC have other related immune system issues like celiac disease, thyroid diseases, hepatitis and others. It also tends to appear more commonly within families – if one family member has PBC, the others are at a heightened risk for also developing the disease.

What are the symptoms of PBC?

PBC generally progresses slowly and can be asymptomatic, particularly in the early stages of the disease. Symptoms can include:

  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Small yellow or white bumps under the skin (xanthomas) or around the eyes (xanthelasmas)
  • Dry mouth and eyes, and bone, muscle and joint pain.
  • Swelling of the legs and feet
  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen (ascites)
What treatments are available?

There is no cure for PBC on the market, but medications can help slow its progression and help prevent further complication. Clinical research trials are also ongoing for new treatments. Give our team a call to see if we have any PBC trials coming up or underway.

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