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Gut. 1998 November; 43(5): 639–644.
PMCID: PMC1727300

Ulcerative colitis has an aggressive course after orthotopic liver transplantation for primary sclerosing cholangitis


Background—The course of inflammatory bowel disease after liver transplantation has been reported as variable with usually no change or improvement, but there may be an increased risk of early colorectal neoplasms. In many centres steroids are often withdrawn early after transplantation and this may affect inflammatory bowel disease activity.
Aims—To evaluate the course of inflammatory bowel disease in primary sclerosing cholangitis transplant patients who were treated without long term steroids.
Methods—Between 1989 and 1996, there were 30 patients transplanted for primary sclerosing cholangitis who survived more than 12 months. Ulcerative colitis was diagnosed in 18 (60%) patients before transplantation; two had previous colectomy. All patients underwent colonoscopy before and after transplantation and were followed for 38 (12-92) months. All received cyclosporin or tacrolimus with or without azathioprine as maintenance immunosuppression.
Results—Ulcerative colitis course after transplantation compared with that up to five years before transplantation was the same in eight (50%) and worse in eight (50%) patients. It remained quiescent in eight and worsened in four of the 12 patients with pretransplant quiescent course, whereas it worsened in all four patients with pretransplant active course (p=0.08). New onset ulcerative colitis developed in three (25%) of the 12 patients without inflammatory bowel disease before transplantation. No colorectal cancer has been diagnosed to date.
Conclusions—Preexisting ulcerative colitis often has an aggressive course, while de novo ulcerative colitis may develop in patients transplanted for primary sclerosing cholangitis and treated without long term steroids.

Keywords: liver transplantation; inflammatory bowel disease; ulcerative colitis; primary sclerosing cholangitis; immunosuppression

Figure 1
Relation between pre- and post-liver transplantation ulcerative colitis (UC) course.

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