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1.  Primary biliary cirrhosis-specific autoantibodies in first degree relatives of Greek primary biliary cirrhosis patients 
AIM: To determine the prevalence and significance of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC)-specific autoantibodies in first-degree relatives (FDRs) of Greek PBC patients.
METHODS: The presence of antimitochondrial antibodies (AMA) and PBC-specific antinuclear antibodies (ANA) were determined using indirect immunofluorescence assays, dot-blot assays, and molecularly based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays in 101 asymptomatic for liver-related symptoms FDRs of 44 PBC patients. In order to specify our results, the same investigation was performed in 40 healthy controls and in a disease control group consisting of 40 asymptomatic for liver-related symptoms FDRs of patients with other autoimmune liver diseases namely, autoimmune hepatitis-1 or primary sclerosing cholangitis (AIH-1/PSC).
RESULTS: AMA positivity was observed in 19 (only 4 with abnormal liver function tests) FDRs of PBC patients and none of the healthy controls. The prevalence of AMA was significantly higher in FDRs of PBC patients than in AIH-1/PSC FDRs and healthy controls [18.8%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 12%-28.1% vs 2.5%, 95% CI: 0.1%-14.7%, P = 0.01; 18.8%, 95% CI: 12%-28.1% vs 0%, 95% CI: 0%-10.9%, P = 0.003, respectively]. PBC-specific ANA positivity was observed in only one FDR from a PSC patient. Multivariate analysis showed that having a proband with PBC independently associated with AMA positivity (odds ratio: 11.24, 95% CI: 1.27-25.34, P = 0.03) whereas among the investigated comorbidities and risk factors, a positive past history for urinary tract infections (UTI) was also independently associated with AMA detection in FDRs of PBC patients (odds ratio: 3.92, 95% CI: 1.25-12.35, P = 0.02).
CONCLUSION: In FDRs of Greek PBC patients, AMA prevalence is significantly increased and independently associated with past UTI. PBC-specific ANA were not detected in anyone of PBC FDRs.
PMCID: PMC3442210  PMID: 23002341
Primary biliary cirrhosis; Antimitochondrial antibodies; Anti-gp210; Anti-sp100; Liver autoimmunity
2.  Risk Factors and Comorbidities in Primary Biliary Cirrhosis: A Controlled Interview-Based Study of 1032 Patients 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2005;42(5):1194-1202.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is an autoimmune disease of unknown etiology, often associated with other autoimmune conditions. Controlled studies have so far provided conflicting data on risk factors and comorbidity rates in PBC. We enrolled patients with PBC (n = 1032) from 23 tertiary referral centers for liver diseases in the United States and random-digit-dialed controls (n = 1041) matched for sex, age, race, and geographical location. Patients and controls were administered a modified version of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES III) questionnaire by trained personnel to evaluate associations between PBC and social, demographic, personal and family medical histories, lifestyle, and reproductive factors and the rates of comorbidity in affected individuals. Data indicate that having a first-degree relative with PBC (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 10.736; 95% confidence interval 4.227–27.268), history of urinary tract infections (AOR 1.511, 95% CI 1.192–1.915), past smoking (AOR 1.569, 95% CI 1.292–1.905), or use of hormone replacement therapies (AOR 1.548, 95% CI 1.273–1.882) were significantly associated with increased risk of PBC. The frequent use of nail polish slightly increased the risk of having PBC. Other autoimmune diseases were found in 32% of cases and 13% of controls (P<0.0001). In conclusion, environmental factors, possibly including infectious agents through urinary tract infections or chemicals contained in cigarette smoke, may induce PBC in genetically susceptible individuals. Exogenous estrogens may also contribute to explain the female predominance of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3150736  PMID: 16250040
3.  Towards systemic sclerosis and away from primary biliary cirrhosis: the case of PTPN22 
Auto-Immunity Highlights  2011;3(1):1-9.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a chronic cholestatic liver disease characterized by immune-mediated destruction of the small and medium size intrahepatic bile ducts. PBC patients often have concomitant autoimmune diseases, which are most often autoimmune thyroid disease, as well as Sicca syndrome. Occasionally, some PBC patients will also have systemic sclerosis of the limited cutaneous type (lcSSc). Conversely, up to one-fourth of SSc patients are positive for antimitochondrial antibody, the serologic hallmark of PBC. It is also common for SSc patients to have concomitant autoimmune disease, which may include PBC in rare cases. This has led to speculation of shared environmental and/or genetic factors, which lead to the development of PBC in SSc patients and vice versa. Recent genetic studies have revealed associations with several genes in both SSc and PBC. PTPN22 is one gene that has been associated with SSc, but not with PBC. It may be argued that some SSc patients with a particular genotype, which shares genes found in both conditions may develop PBC. Likewise, particular genes such as PTPN22 may infer susceptibility to SSc alone. The presence of PTPN22 may also contribute to the development of SSc in PBC patients. The lack of a large number of overlapping genes may, in part, explain the relative rarity of PBC with SSc and vice versa. This review will examine the literature surrounding the genetic associations of PBC and SSc, and the role of PTPN22 in particular.
PMCID: PMC4389021  PMID: 26000122
Autoimmunity; Autoimmune disease; Bile ducts; Cholestasis; Liver; Immunology; Rheumatology
4.  Primary biliary cirrhosis is associated with a genetic variant in the 3’ flanking region of the CTLA4 gene 
Gastroenterology  2008;135(4):1200-1206.
Background and Aims
Genetic variation is invoked as a strong component underlying primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and other autoimmune disorders. Data suggests that some of this genetic risk is shared, affecting function of the immune mechanisms controlling self tolerance. Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA4) encodes a coinhibitory immunoreceptor that is a key regulator of self tolerance with established genetic associations to multiple autoimmune diseases, but conflicting evidence of involvement with PBC. We aimed to perform a more comprehensive assessment of CTLA4 genetic variation in PBC using a haplotype-tagging based approach.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in 402 PBC patients and 279 controls and evaluated for association with PBC, and with antimitochondrial antibody (AMA) status and prior orthotopic liver transplant (OLT) among the PBC patients, both individually and as inferred haplotypes, using logistic regression.
All SNPs were in Hardy Weinberg Equilibrium. We identified a novel and relatively strong association between PBC and rs231725, a SNP in the 3’ flanking region of CTLA4 located outside of the area previously investigated in PBC. This SNP tags a common CTLA4 haplotype that contains a number of functionally implicated autoimmune CTLA4 SNPs, which was also found to be associated with PBC and to a lesser extent AMA status and prior OLT.
Our findings suggest that CTLA4 has an impact on the risk of PBC and possibly plays a role in influencing AMA development as well as progression to OLT among PBC patients. Replication in a suitable, independent PBC cohort is needed.
PMCID: PMC2613835  PMID: 18778710
5.  The association between primary biliary cirrhosis and coeliac disease: a study of relative prevalences 
Gut  1998;42(1):120-122.
Background—Coexistent primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and coeliac disease has been recorded but the association has not been systematically studied. 
Aims—To determine relative prevalences of PBC and coeliac disease in a defined population over a 12 year period. 
Patients and methods—All patients with PBC or coeliac disease in a stable population of 250 000 in South Wales were identified from a clinical register and laboratory records. 
Results—Sixty seven patients with PBC and 143 patients with coeliac disease have been diagnosed and followed over a median of 86 (4-135) months; point prevalences in 1996 were 20 per 100 000 for PBC and 54 per 100 000 for coeliac disease. PBC in patients with coeliac disease was sought by investigating abnormal liver function tests. Ten (7%) had persistent abnormalities and three had PBC. Coeliac disease in patients with PBC was sought by investigating malabsorption, haematinic deficiency, positive antigliadin antibody, or coeliac disease family history. Eleven patients underwent duodenal biopsy revealing one further coeliac disease case. Four patients (three women) have both conditions giving a point prevalence for patients with both conditions of 1.6 per 100 000 (95% confidence limits 0.44 to 4.1 per 100 000). Prevalence of PBC in patients with coeliac disease was 3% and of coeliac disease in patients with PBC was 6%. 
Conclusion—A 12 year study of a stable 250 000 population revealed a relative prevalence of PBC in 3% of 143 patients with coeliac disease and of coeliac disease in 6% of 67 patients with PBC. PBC and coeliac disease are therefore associated. Screening for PBC in patients with coeliac disease using antimitochondrial antibody testing and screening for coeliac disease in patients with PBC with antigliadin antibody testing or duodenal biopsy are recommended. 

Keywords: primary biliary cirrhosis; coeliac disease; prevalence
PMCID: PMC1726939  PMID: 9518232
6.  Primary biliary cirrhosis-associated hepatocellular carcinoma in Chinese patients: Incidence and risk factors 
AIM: To investigate the incidence, characteristics, and risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in Chinese patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC).
METHODS: We reviewed the data of 52 PBC-associated HCC patients treated at Beijing 302 Hospital from January 2002 to December 2013 and analyzed its incidence and characteristics between the two genders. The risk factors for PBC-associated HCC were analyzed via a case-control study comprising 20 PBC patients with HCC and 77 matched controls without HCC. The matched factors included gender, age, follow-up period and Child-Pugh scores. Conditional logistic regression was used to evaluate the odds ratios of potential risk factors for HCC development. A P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
RESULTS: The incidence of HCC in Chinese PBC patients was 4.13% (52/1255) and was significantly higher in the males (9.52%) than in the females (3.31%). Among the 52 PBC patients with HCC, 55.76% (29/52) were diagnosed with HCC and PBC simultaneously, and 5.76% (3/52) were diagnosed with HCC before PBC. The males with PBC-associated HCC were more likely than the females to have undergone blood transfusion (18.75% vs 8.33%, P = 0.043), consumed alcohol (31.25% vs 8.33%, P = 0.010), smoked (31.25% vs 8.33%, P = 0.010), had a family history of malignancy (25% vs 5.56%, P = 0.012), and had serious liver inflammation, as indicated by the elevated levels of alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and γ-glutamyl transpeptidase (P < 0.05). Conditional logistic regression analysis revealed that body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.116, 95%CI: 1.002-1.244, P = 0.045] and history of alcohol intake (AOR = 10.294, 95%CI: 1.108-95.680, P = 0.040) were significantly associated with increased odds of HCC development in PBC patients.
CONCLUSION: HCC is not rare in Chinese PBC patients. Risk factors for PBC-associated HCC include BMI ≥ 25 and a history of alcohol intake. In addition to regular monitoring, PBC patients may benefit from abstinence from alcohol and body weight control.
PMCID: PMC4375577  PMID: 25834320
Primary biliary cirrhosis; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Body mass index; History of alcohol intake; Case-control study
7.  Cardiac torsion-strain relationships in fatigued primary biliary cirrhosis patients show accelerated aging: a pilot cross-sectional study 
Journal of Applied Physiology  2012;112(12):2043-2048.
The autoimmune liver disease primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is associated with life-altering fatigue in ∼50% of patients. Previous work suggests that fatigued PBC subjects have evidence of autonomic dysfunction and may be at a higher risk of sudden cardiac death. The manifestation of this risk is not clear. This pilot study investigated whether alterations in cardiac torsion and strain could be detected in fatigued or nonfatigued early-stage PBC patients. We performed cardiac tissue tagging and anatomical cine-imaging in 13 early-stage PBC patients (including 7 with significant fatigue) and 10 control subjects to calculate cardiac torsion and strain throughout systole and diastole. From the cardiac tagging, we calculated the torsion-to-shortening ratio (TSR), a measure of subepicardial torsion exerting mechanical advantage over subendocardial shortening. Autonomic function testing was performed to evaluate baroreceptor effective index on standing. TSR was markedly increased in the fatigued PBC patients (0.70 ± 0.13) compared with both controls (0.46 ± 0.11, P = 0.002) and nonfatigued PBC patients (0.44 ± 0.12, P = 0.003). Decreased baroreceptor effective index on standing strongly correlated with increased TSR within the whole PBC group (r = −0.71, P = 0.007). Fatigued PBC patients demonstrate a redistribution of myocardial strain characteristic of a reduced relative contribution to contraction from the subendocardium. This is analogous to the changes found in healthy aging for subjects ∼16 yr older than the fatigued PBC patients. Hence the hearts of fatigued PBC patients may be subject to processes of accelerated aging.
PMCID: PMC3378393  PMID: 22461446
torsion; strain; magnetic resonance imaging; liver disease; autoimmune
8.  Rheumatoid Arthritis and Primary Biliary Cirrhosis: Cause, Consequence, or Coincidence? 
Arthritis  2012;2012:391567.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a progressive cholestatic liver disease characterized serologically by cholestasis and the presence of high-titre antimitochondrial antibodies and histologically by chronic nonsuppurative cholangitis and granulomata. PBC patients often have concomitant autoimmune diseases, including arthropathies. This raises the question as to whether there are shared features in the pathogenesis of those diseases with the pathogenesis of PBC. Epidemiological and large case studies have indicated that although the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is not significantly raised in PBC patients, there appears to be a higher rate of RA in PBC patients and their relatives. Genetic studies have demonstrated that several genes implicated in PBC have also been implicated in RA. Epigenetic studies provided a wealth of data regarding RA, but the findings on epigenetic changes in PBC are very limited. As well, certain infectious agents identified in the pathogenesis of PBC may also play a role in the pathogenesis of RA. These data suggest that although RA is not significantly present in PBC, some individuals with certain genetic traits and environmental exposures may develop both conditions. This concept may also apply to other concomitant diseases found in PBC patients.
PMCID: PMC3488395  PMID: 23150824
9.  Recurrence of primary biliary cirrhosis and development of autoimmune hepatitis after liver transplant: A blind histologic study 
This long-term study aimed to evaluate recurrence and evolution of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT).
We reviewed “blindly” allograft biopsy specimens of women who underwent transplantation for PBC (n = 84), and women who received a transplant for chronic hepatitis C virus infection (CHCV) (n = 108). All needle liver biopsy specimens obtained more than 6 months post-OLT were examined, including 83 specimens from 44 PBC patients and 152 specimens from 58 CHCV patients.
Granulomatous destructive cholangitis was found in five biopsies from four PBC patients (P = 0.0048). Non-necrotizing epithelioid cell granulomas were present in four biopsies from four PBC patients, and in two biopsies from one CHCV patient. Piecemeal necrosis (P = 0.0002), lobular necroinflammatory activity (P < 0.0001), steatosis (P < 0.0001) and fibrosis (P < 0.0001) were more prevalent in CHCV patients than PBC patients. Four PBC patients developed histologic evidence of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), at a mean time of 3.66 years post-OLT. One of these patients had histologic features of AIH/PBC overlap syndrome. All four patients developed bridging fibrosis (n = 2) or cirrhosis (n = 2). No other PBC patient had evidence of cirrhosis after OLT.
Histologic findings indicative of recurrent PBC were present in 15.9% of the PBC patients undergoing biopsy in this series. However, this group of patients did not suffer significant bile duct loss or fibrosis, as compared to the control group, suggesting that recurrent PBC is a mild or slowly progressive disease. Histologic evidence of AIH was observed in allograft biopsies of some PBC patients.
PMCID: PMC3127546  PMID: 19207586
autoimmune hepatitis; hepatitis C virus; liver transplantation; primary biliary cirrhosis; recurrence
10.  Clinical Characteristics of Concomitant Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Primary Biliary Cirrhosis: A Literature Review 
Journal of Immunology Research  2015;2015:713728.
Although autoimmune diseases often coexist, concomitant cases of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) are uncommon. In this review paper, 34 cases of SLE with concomitant PBC found in English and Japanese scientific literature and Japanese proceedings were reviewed and summarized, including cases with liver dysfunction complicated by SLE. Of the 34 reported concomitant cases of SLE and PBC, 97.1% (33/34) were females, and PBC was diagnosed initially in 69.0% (20/29), except for five cases in which both SLE and PBC were simultaneously diagnosed. Sjögren's syndrome was the most common autoimmune disease complicating concomitant SLE and PBC (23.5%, 8/34). Five deaths have been reported: two elderly patients died of liver failure because of the worsening of PBC, and another two patients died from pulmonary infection associated with SLE pharmacotherapy. It is uncertain whether concomitant cases occur by chance or share a common immunological or genetic basis.
PMCID: PMC4452083  PMID: 26090497
11.  Humoral autoimmune response heterogeneity in the spectrum of primary biliary cirrhosis 
Hepatology International  2012;7(2):775-784.
To compare autoantibody features in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and individuals presenting antimitochondria antibodies (AMAs) but no clinical or biochemical evidence of disease.
A total of 212 AMA-positive serum samples were classified into four groups: PBC (definite PBC, n = 93); PBC/autoimmune disease (AID; PBC plus other AID, n = 37); biochemically normal (BN) individuals (n = 61); and BN/AID (BN plus other AID, n = 21). Samples were tested by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) on rat kidney (IIF-AMA) and ELISA [antibodies to pyruvate dehydrogenase E2-complex (PDC-E2), gp-210, Sp-100, and CENP-A/B]. AMA isotype was determined by IIF-AMA. Affinity of anti-PDC-E2 IgG was determined by 8 M urea-modified ELISA.
High-titer IIF-AMA was more frequent in PBC and PBC/AID (57 and 70 %) than in BN and BN/AID samples (23 and 19 %) (p < 0.001). Triple isotype IIF-AMA (IgA/IgM/IgG) was more frequent in PBC and PBC/AID samples (35 and 43 %) than in BN sample (18 %; p = 0.008; p = 0.013, respectively). Anti-PDC-E2 levels were higher in PBC (mean 3.82; 95 % CI 3.36–4.29) and PBC/AID samples (3.89; 3.15–4.63) than in BN (2.43; 1.92–2.94) and BN/AID samples (2.52; 1.54–3.50) (p < 0.001). Anti-PDC-E2 avidity was higher in PBC (mean 64.5 %; 95 % CI 57.5–71.5 %) and PBC/AID samples (66.1 %; 54.4–77.8 %) than in BN samples (39.2 %; 30.9–37.5 %) (p < 0.001). PBC and PBC/AID recognized more cell domains (mitochondria, nuclear envelope, PML/sp-100 bodies, centromere) than BN (p = 0.008) and BN/AID samples (p = 0.002). Three variables were independently associated with established PBC: high-avidity anti-PDC-E2 (OR 4.121; 95 % CI 2.118–8.019); high-titer IIF-AMA (OR 4.890; 2.319–10.314); antibodies to three or more antigenic cell domains (OR 9.414; 1.924–46.060).
The autoantibody profile was quantitatively and qualitatively more robust in definite PBC as compared with AMA-positive biochemically normal individuals.
PMCID: PMC3695681  PMID: 23853697
Autoimmunity; Antibody affinity; Autoimmune liver diseases; Autoantibodies
12.  Overlap syndromes among autoimmune liver diseases 
The three major immune disorders of the liver are autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). Variant forms of these diseases are generally called overlap syndromes, although there has been no standardized definition. Patients with overlap syndromes present with both hepatitic and cholestatic serum liver tests and have histological features of AIH and PBC or PSC. The AIH-PBC overlap syndrome is the most common form, affecting almost 10% of adults with AIH or PBC. Single cases of AIH and autoimmune cholangitis (AMA-negative PBC) overlap syndrome have also been reported. The AIH-PSC overlap syndrome is predominantly found in children, adolescents and young adults with AIH or PSC. Interestingly, transitions from one autoimmune to another have also been reported in a minority of patients, especially transitions from PBC to AIH-PBC overlap syndrome. Overlap syndromes show a progressive course towards liver cirrhosis and liver failure without treatment. Therapy for overlap syndromes is empiric, since controlled trials are not available in these rare disorders. Anticholestatic therapy with ursodeoxycholic acid is usually combined with immunosuppressive therapy with corticosteroids and/or azathioprine in both AIH-PBC and AIH-PSC overlap syndromes. In end-stage disease, liver transplantation is the treatment of choice.
PMCID: PMC2716591  PMID: 18528934
Autoimmune hepatitis; Immunosuppressive agents; Primary biliary cirrhosis; Primary sclerosing cholangitis; Ursodeoxycholic acid
13.  Clinical significance of autoantibodies to p53 protein in patients with autoimmune liver diseases 
Mutations in the p53 gene leading to conformational changes in the p53 protein have been well established in many human cancers. Conformational changes and/or cellular accumulation of the protein may induce an immune response, resulting in circulating autoantibodies to p53, which have been documented in several types of cancers. Although rarely associated with autoimmune disease, a few reports have documented titres of anti-p53 autoantibodies in patients with autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis. The clinical relevance of circulating autoantibodies to p53, therefore, remains unclear. Accordingly, this study aimed to examine the prevalence and clinical relevance of anti-p53 autoantibodies in patients with selected autoimmune liver diseases.
Autoantibodies to p53 (anti-p53) are rarely present in the sera of patients with autoimmune diseases or the sera of patients with malignancies.
To examine the prevalence of anti-p53 in patients with autoimmune liver disease including autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), AIH/PBC overlap syndrome (AIH/PBC OS) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), and to determine the clinical significance of anti-p53 in autoimmune liver diseases.
Forty patients with AIH, 41 patients with PBC, eight patients with AIH/PBC OS and five patients with PSC were enrolled. Anti-p53 and antibodies to double-stranded DNA (anti-ds-DNA) were analyzed using commercially available ELISA kits. Demographic, laboratory and histological data were compared between the AIH groups seropositive and seronegative for anti-p53.
Six of 40 (15.0%) patients with AIH and four of eight (50.0%) patients with AIH/PBC OS were positive for anti-p53. One of 41 (2.4%) patients with PBC was also positive for anti-p53, but all five patients with PSC were negative, indicating a significantly higher prevalence of anti-p53 in patients with AIH or AIH/PBC OS compared with patients with PBC. None of the AIH patients positive for anti-p53 progressed to hepatic failure or relapsed after immunosuppressive treatment. Titres of anti-ds-DNA in patients with AIH and AIH/PBC OS significantly correlated with titres of anti-p53 (r=0.511; P=0.0213).
The emergence of anti-p53 is likely to be useful for discriminating AIH or AIH/PBC OS from PBC and helpful for predicting favourable prognoses in patients with AIH. DNA damage may trigger the production of anti-p53 in patients with AIH or AIH/PBC OS.
PMCID: PMC3299234  PMID: 22408762
Antibodies to ds-DNA; Antibodies to p53; Autoimmune hepatitis; Primary biliary cirrhosis
14.  Retrospective analysis of autoimmune hepatitis-primary biliary cirrhosis overlap syndrome in Korea: characteristics, treatments, and outcomes 
Clinical and Molecular Hepatology  2015;21(2):150-157.
Overlap syndrome of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) (AIH-PBC overlap syndrome) is a rare disease that has not been clearly characterized in Korean patients. This study investigated the clinical features of AIH-PBC overlap syndrome compared with those of AIH and PBC alone.
This retrospective cohort study included 158 consecutive patients who were diagnosed as AIH (n=61), PBC (n=81), or AIH-PBC overlap syndrome (n=9) based on the Paris and the International Autoimmune Hepatitis Group (IAIHG) criteria from 2001 to 2011 in Korea. We compared the clinical features of these three groups retrospectively, including their biochemical characteristics, treatments, responses, and clinical outcomes.
The AIH-PBC overlap syndrome patients exhibited biochemical characteristics of both AIH and PBC, and showed a similar response to ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) monotherapy as for the PBC patients. However, the response of AIH-PBC overlap syndrome patients to UDCA and steroid combination therapy was worse than the response of AIH patients to steroid-based therapy (P=0.024). Liver cirrhosis developed more rapidly in AIH-PBC overlap syndrome patients than in AIH patients group (P=0.013), but there was no difference between AIH-PBC overlap syndrome patients and PBC patients. The rates of developing hepatic decompensation did not differ significantly between the groups.
The AIH-PBC overlap syndrome patients exhibited a worse response to UDCA and steroid combination therapy and a faster cirrhotic progression compared with AIH patients.
PMCID: PMC4493358  PMID: 26157752
Autoimmune hepatitis; Primary biliary cirrhosis; Overlap syndrome
15.  Interacting Alleles of the Coinhibitory Immunoreceptor Genes Cytotoxic T-Lymphocyte Antigen 4 and Programmed Cell-Death 1 Influence Risk and Features of Primary Biliary Cirrhosis 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2008;47(2):563-570.
Autoimmune diseases such as primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) result from failure in the immune mechanisms that establish and maintain self-tolerance. Evidence suggests that these processes are shared among the spectrum of autoimmune syndromes and are likely genetically determined. Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA4) and programmed cell-death 1 (PDCD1) are two genes encoding coinhibitory immunoreceptors that harbor polymorphisms with demonstrated associations to multiple autoimmune disorders. We aimed to assess functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these two genes for association with PBC. SNPs in CTLA4 and PDCD1 were genotyped in 351 PBC patients and 205 controls. Allele and genotype frequencies were evaluated for association with PBC and/or antimitochondrial antibody (AMA) positivity with logistic regression. Haplotypes were inferred with an expectation-maximization algorithm, and allelic interaction was analyzed by logistic regression modeling. Individual SNPs demonstrated no association to PBC. However, the GG genotype of CTLA4 49AG was significantly associated with AMA positivity among the PBC patients. Also, individual SNPs and a haplotype of CTLA4 as well as a rare genotype of the PDCD1 SNP PD1.3 were associated with orthotopic liver transplantation. As well, we identified the influence of an interaction between the putatively autoimmune-protective CTLA4 49AG:CT60 AA haplotype and autoimmune-risk PDCD1 PD1.3 A allele on development of PBC.
Our findings illustrate the complex nature of the genetically induced risk of PBC and emphasize the importance of considering definable subphenotypes of disease, such as AMA positivity, or definitive measures of disease severity/progression, like orthotopic liver transplantation, when genetic analyses are being performed. Comprehensive screening of genes involved with immune function will lead to a greater understanding of the genetic component of autoimmunity in PBC while furthering our understanding of the pathogenic properties of this enigmatic disease.
PMCID: PMC3354920  PMID: 18041714
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2011;54(2):714-723.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is an autoimmune biliary disease characterized by injury of small and medium size bile ducts eventually leading to liver cirrhosis and death. While the causes remain enigmatic, recent evidence has strengthened the importance of genetic factors in determining the susceptibility to the disease. Besides the strong heritability suggested by familial occurrence and monozygotic twins concordance, for decades there has not been a clear association with specific genes, with the only exception of a low risk conferred by a class II human leukocyte antigen (HLA) variant, the DRB1*08 allele, at least in some populations. Only recently the story began to change when a strong protective associations between PBC and the HLA DRB1*11 and DRB1*13 alleles were found in Italian and UK series. But HLA genes fully returned to attract interest thanks to recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) which clearly demonstrated that the major component of the genetic architecture of PBC are within the HLA region. As expected in a genetically complex disease, GWAS also identified several novel non-HLA variants, but it is to note that all of them are in immuno-related genes. In this review, the paradigmatic tale of what, and how, we learned about HLA genes in PBC will be retraced with particular focus on how GWAS are enabling us to rewrite the story of PBC pathogenesis. These recent discoveries will not only driving functional studies but will also held the promise of developing novel disease-specific treatments.
PMCID: PMC3145017  PMID: 21563204
Human leukocyte antigens; genetics; autoimmune liver disease; etiopathogenesis
17.  Osteoporosis in primary biliary cirrhosis revisited 
Gut  2001;49(2):282-287.
BACKGROUND—Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is increasingly being diagnosed in the earlier non-cholestatic stages of disease. Accepted wisdom has been that PBC is frequently complicated by osteoporosis. Whether this association holds true for the broader spectrum of PBC patients now recognised has not as yet been studied.
AIMS—To examine the extent to which osteoporosis occurs more commonly in PBC patients than in normal individuals of the same age and sex.
DESIGN—Retrospective review of a large cohort of well characterised PBC patients.
PATIENTS—A total of 272 PBC patients with definite or probable PBC followed up for a mean of 10.1 years (total follow up 2726 patient years) who had at least one bone mineral density measurement (BMD).
RESULTS—In this unselected group of PBC patients, mean Z scores (number of SDs from age and sex matched normal mean values) at the neck of femur (NOF) and lumbar spine (LS) at first BMD measurement (7 (6) years after PBC diagnosis) were −0.1 (1.4) and 0.1 (1.4), respectively. At first BMD measurement, 18 PBC patients had Z scores less than −2.0 and 85 had T scores less than −2.5. No factors predictive of osteoporosis were found in affected patients. A total of 957 BMD measurements were performed (0.35 per patient year of follow up); 220 patients had two or more measurements. No patient went on to develop de novo osteoporosis during follow up. In the 51 patients (who were clinically representative of the whole group) who received no PBC or bone related treatment during follow up, %BMD changes per year at the NOF and LS were −1.6 (3.2) and 0.1 (2.2), respectively. No variance in this "natural" rate of BMD measurement was seen in patients receiving PBC modulating agents (including prednisolone and UDCA) or osteoporosis prophylaxis/therapy. Significant improvement at the LS was seen in patients undergoing liver transplantation.
CONCLUSIONS—Osteoporosis is not a specific complication of PBC.

Keywords: liver cirrhosis; primary biliary cirrhosis; osteoporosis
PMCID: PMC1728382  PMID: 11454807
18.  Autoantibodies in Chinese patients with chronic hepatitis B: Prevalence and clinical associations 
AIM: To investigate the prevalence of autoantibodies and their associations with clinical features in Chinese patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB).
METHODS: A total of 325 Chinese patients with CHB were enrolled in this retrospective, hospital-based study. Patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC), autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), or primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) were included, with healthy donors acting as controls. A panel of autoantibodies that serologically define AIH and PBC was tested by indirect immunofluorescence assay and line immunoassay. The AIH-related autoantibody profile included homogeneous anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA-H), smooth-muscle antibodies, anti-liver kidney microsome type 1, anti-liver cytosolic antigen type 1, and anti-soluble liver antigen/liver pancreas; the PBC-related antibodies were characterized by ANA-nuclear dots/membranous rim-like, anti-mitochondrial antibodies-M2 (AMA-M2), anti-BPO (recombinant antigen targeted by AMA-M2), anti-Sp100, anti-promyelocytic leukemia protein (anti-PML), and anti-gp210. The dichotomization of clustering was used to unequivocally designate the AIH or PBC profiles for each case. Anti-Ro52 antibodies were also tested.
RESULTS: The prevalence of any autoantibody in CHB amounted to 58.2%, which was similar to the 66.2% prevalence in CHC, significantly higher than the 6.7% in the healthy controls (P < 0.001), and lower than the 100% found in AIH and PBC (P = 0.004 and P < 0.001, respectively). There were more anti-PML and anti-gp210 antibodies among the CHB patients than the CHC patients (11.1% vs 0%, P = 0.003; 12.6% vs 0%, P < 0.001, respectively). The prevalence and titer of AMA, anti-BPO, anti-PML, and anti-gp210 were higher in PBC than in those with CHB. Among the CHB patients, the prevalence of ANA, especially ANA-H, was significantly lower in patients with compensated and decompensated cirrhosis compared with patients without cirrhosis. Thirty-eight cases of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in CHB showed a significant difference compared with non-HCC patients in the prevalence of anti-PML (0% vs 12.5%, P = 0.013). Dichotomization of the autoantibodies revealed that the PBC profile was more prevalent in patients with CHB than in those with CHC, and that it was strongly correlated with both compensated and decompensated cirrhosis. In contrast, the prevalence of the AIH profile was significantly higher in non-cirrhosis patients with CHB than in those with compensated cirrhosis (18.5% vs 8.2%, P = 0.039). Moreover, the AIH profile was also closely associated with hepatitis B e-antigen positivity.
CONCLUSION: ANA-H could be an indicator of early-stage CHB. Dichotomizing the autoantibody profiles revealed that the PBC profile is strongly associated with cirrhosis in CHB.
PMCID: PMC4284347  PMID: 25574103
Autoantibodies; Chronic hepatitis B; Autoimmune hepatitis; Primary biliary cirrhosis; Cirrhosis; Hepatocellular carcinoma
19.  Clinicopathological study of primary biliary cirrhosis with interface hepatitis compared to autoimmune hepatitis 
AIM: To investigate histological and immunohistochemical differences in hepatitis between autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) with AIH features.
METHODS: Liver needle biopsies of 41 PBC with AIH features and 43 AIH patients were examined. The activity of periportal and lobular inflammation was scored 0 (none or minimal activity) to 4 (severe), and the degree of hepatitic rosette formation and emperipolesis was semiquantatively scored 0-3. The infiltration of mononuclear cells positive for CD20, CD38, CD3, CD4, and CD8 and positive for immunoglobulins (IgG, IgM, and IgA) at the periportal areas (interface hepatitis) and in the hepatic lobules (lobular hepatitis) were semiquantitatively scored in immunostained liver sections (score 0-6). Serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST), immunoglobulins, and autoantibodies at the time of liver biopsy were correlated with the histological and immunohistochemical scores of individual lesions.
RESULTS: Lobular hepatitis, hepatitic rosette formation, and emperipolesis were more extensive and frequent in AIH than in PBC. CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ cell infiltration scores were higher in the hepatic lobules and at the interface in AIH but were also found in PBC. The degree of mononuclear cell infiltration correlated well with the degree of interface and lobular hepatitis in PBC, but to a lesser degree in AIH. CD20+ cells were mainly found in the portal tracts and, occasionally, at the interface in both diseases. Elevated AST correlated well with the hepatocyte necroinflammation and mononuclear cell infiltration, specifically CD38+ cells in PBC. No correlation existed between autoantibodies and inflammatory cell infiltration in PBC or AIH. While most AIH cases were IgG-predominant at the interface, PBC cases were divided into IgM-predominant, IgM/IgG-equal, and IgG-predominant types, with the latter sharing several features with AIH.
CONCLUSION: These results suggest that the hepatocellular injuries associated with interface and lobular hepatitis in AIH and PBC with interface hepatitis may not be identical.
PMCID: PMC3974527  PMID: 24707143
Primary biliary cirrhosis; Autoimmune hepatitis; Interface hepatitis; Lobular hepatitis; Plasma cell subclass
20.  Geographic Clusters of Primary Biliary Cirrhosis 
Genetic and environmental factors have been widely suggested to contribute to the pathogenesis of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), an autoimmune disease of unknown etiology leading to destruction of small bile ducts. Interestingly, epidemiologic data indicate a variable prevalence of the disease in different geographical areas. The study of clusters of PBC may provide clues as to possible triggers in the induction of immunopathology. We report herein four such unique PBC clusters that suggest the presence of both genetic and environmental factors in the induction of PBC. The first cluster is represented by a family of ten siblings of Palestinian origin that have an extraordinary frequency of PBC (with 5/8 sisters having the disease). Second, we describe the cases of a husband and wife, both having PBC. A family in which PBC was diagnosed in two genetically unrelated individuals, who lived in the same household, represents the third cluster. Fourth, we report a high prevalence of PBC cases in a very small area in Alaska. Although these data are anedoctal, the study of a large number of such clusters may provide a tool to estimate the roles of genetics and environment in the induction of autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC2485422  PMID: 14768943
21.  High frequency of autoantibodies in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis that bind biliary epithelial cells and induce expression of CD44 and production of interleukin 6 
Gut  2002;51(1):120-127.
Aim: Sera of patients with autoimmune liver diseases were investigated for the presence of autoantibodies binding to human biliary epithelial cells (BECs). Furthermore, their functional capacity was investigated by testing their capacity to fix complement as well as induce expression of various adhesion molecules and production of cytokines.
Methods: Sera from patients with various stages of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC; n=30), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC; n=29), autoimmune hepatitis (AIH; n=25), and normal controls (n=12) were investigated for the presence of antibodies that reacted with unstimulated and cytokine stimulated BECs isolated from a normal healthy liver. To demonstrate organ specificity, lung epithelial cells (LECs) were used as control cells. Antibodies were tested for their functional capacity.
Results: Compared with controls (8%), significantly higher numbers of PSC patients (63%, p=0.001), but not PBC (37%, NS) or AIH (16%, NS) patients, had anti-BEC antibodies. In 90% of PSC patients, the autoantibodies reacted only with cytokine stimulated target cells. Lower numbers of PSC (6%), PBC (10%), and AIH (0%) patients had LEC antibodies. Other significant findings were that anti-BEC antibodies were found in (i) PSC patients with either the HLA-DRB1*0301 or DR2 allele compared with those without (p=0.007); and (ii) in PBC patients with end stage disease compared with those without (p=0.018). Furthermore, anti-BEC antibodies from PSC and PBC but not AIH patients induced BECs to produce high levels of the cytokine interleukin 6. IgM and IgG fractions isolated from PSC but not PBC and AIH sera induced significantly increased expression of the cell adhesion molecule CD44. Sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and western blot analysis of BEC membranes demonstrated a specific band of 40 kDa with PSC sera and 45, 42, 30, and 33 kDa bands with PBC sera, which were absent in control groups.
Conclusion: Thus for the first time we have demonstrated the presence of functionally important autoantibodies to cell surface expressed antigens on the relevant target cells of destruction, namely BECs, in PSC and PBC. These finding have important implications for the pathogenesis of bile duct destruction in these patients.
PMCID: PMC1773278  PMID: 12077104
autoimmune liver diseases; primary sclerosing cholangitis; primary biliary cirrhosis; adhesion molecules; cytokines
22.  Features of hepatocellular carcinoma in cases with autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis 
AIM: To characterize the clinical features of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) associated with autoimmune liver disease, we critically evaluated the literature on HCC associated with autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC).
METHODS: A systematic review of the literature was conducted using the Japana Centra Revuo Medicina database which produced 38 cases of HCC with AIH (AIH-series) and 50 cases of HCC with PBC (PBC-series). We compared the clinical features of these two sets of patients with the general Japanese HCC population.
RESULTS: On average, HCC was more common in men than in women with AIH or PBC. While many patients underwent chemolipiodolization (CL) or transcatheter arterial embolization (TAE) (AIH-series: P = 0.048 (vs operation), P = 0.018 (vs RFA, PEIT); PBC-series: P = 0.027 (vs RFA, PEIT), others refused therapeutic interventions [AIH-series: P = 0.038 (vs RFA, PEIT); PBC-series: P = 0.003 (vs RFA, PEIT)]. Liver failure was the primary cause of death among patients in this study, followed by tumor rupture. The survival interval between diagnosis and death was fairly short, averaging 14 ± 12 mo in AIH patients and 8.4 ± 14 mo in PBC patients.
CONCLUSION: We demonstrated common clinical features among Japanese cases of HCC arising from AIH and PBC.
PMCID: PMC2653317  PMID: 19132775
Autoimmune hepatitis; Autoimmune liver disease; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Literature review; Primary biliary cirrhosis
23.  Primary biliary cirrhosis: Pathophysiology, clinical presentation and therapy 
World Journal of Hepatology  2015;7(7):926-941.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is an autoimmune, slowly progressive, cholestatic, liver disease characterized by a triad of chronic cholestasis, circulating anti-mitochondrial antibodies (AMA), and characteristic liver biopsy findings of nonsuppurative destructive cholangitis and interlobular bile duct destruction. About 10% of PBC patients, however, lack AMA. A variant, called PBC-autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) overlap, is characterized by the above findings of PBC together with findings of elevated serum alanine aminotransferase, elevated serum immunoglobulin G, and circulating anti-smooth muscle antibodies, with liver biopsy demonstrating periportal or periseptal, lymphocytic, piecemeal necrosis. PBC is hypothesized to be related to environmental exposure in genetically vulnerable individuals. It typically occurs in middle-aged females. Prominent clinical features include fatigue, pruritis, jaundice, xanthomas, osteoporosis, and dyslipidemia. The Mayo Risk score is the most widely used and best prognostic system. Ursodeoxycholic acid is the primary therapy. It works partly by reducing the concentration and injury from relatively toxic bile acids. PBC-AIH overlap syndrome is treated with ursodeoxycholic acid and corticosteroids, especially budesonide. Obeticholic acid and fibrate are promising new, but incompletely tested, therapies. Liver transplantation is the definitive therapy for advanced disease, with about 70% 10-year survival after transplantation. Management of pruritis includes local skin care, dermatologist referral, avoiding potential pruritogens, cholestyramine, and possibly opioid antagonists, sertraline, or rifaximin. Management of osteoporosis includes life-style modifications, administration of calcium and vitamin D, and alendronate. Statins are relatively safe to treat the osteopenia associated with PBC. Associated Sjogren’s syndrome is treated by artificial tears, cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion to stimulate tear production; and saliva substitutes, cholinergic agents, and scrupulous oral and dental care. Complications of cirrhosis from advanced PBC include esophageal varices, ascites, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, hepatorenal syndrome, and hepatoma formation.
PMCID: PMC4419097  PMID: 25954476
Primary biliary cirrhosis; Ursodeoxycholic acid; Cirrhosis; Liver transplantation; Cholestatic liver disease
24.  Environment and Primary Biliary Cirrhosis: Electrophilic Drugs and the Induction of AMA 
Journal of autoimmunity  2013;41:79-86.
Environmental stimulation is a major factor in the initiation and perpetuation of autoimmune diseases. We have addressed this issue and focused on primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), an autoimmune disease of the liver. Immunologically, PBC is distinguished by immune mediated destruction of the intra hepatic bile ducts and the presence of high titer antimitochondrial autoantibodies (AMA) directed against a highly specific epitope within the lipoic acid binding domain of the pyruvate dehydrogenase E2 subunit (PDC-E2). We submit that the uniqueness of AMA epitope specificity and the conformational changes of the PDC-E2 lipoyl domain during physiological acyl transfer could be the lynchpin to the etiology of PBC and postulate that chemical xenobiotics modification of the lipoyl domain of PDC-E2 is sufficient to break self-tolerance, with subsequent production of AMA in patients with PBC. Indeed, using quantitative structure activity relationship (QSAR) analysis on a peptide-xenobiotic conjugate microarray platform, we have demonstrated that when the lipoyl domain of PDC-E2 was modified with specific synthetic small molecule lipoyl mimics, the ensuing structures displayed highly specific reactivity to PBC sera, at levels often higher than the native PDC-E2 molecule. Hereby, we discuss our recent QSAR analysis data on specific AMA reactivity against a focused panel of lipoic acid mimic in which the lipoyl di-sulfide bond are modified. Furthermore, data on the immunological characterization of antigen and Ig isotype specificities against one such lipoic acid mimic; 6,8-bis(acetylthio)octanoic acid (SAc), when compared with rPDC-E2, strongly support a xenobiotic etiology in PBC. This observation is of particular significance in that approximately one third of patients who have taken excessive acetaminophen (APAP) developed AMA with same specificity as patients with PBC, suggesting that the lipoic domain are a target of APAP electrophilic metabolites such as NAPQI. We submit that in genetically susceptible hosts, electrophilic modification of lipoic acid in PDC-E2 by acetaminophen or similar drugs can facilitate loss of tolerance and lead to the development of PBC.
PMCID: PMC3622763  PMID: 23352659
25.  Immunopathogenesis of primary biliary cirrhosis: an old wives' tale 
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a cholestatic liver disease characterised by the autoimmune destruction of the small intrahepatic bile ducts. The disease has an unpredictable clinical course, but may progress to fibrosis and cirrhosis. Although medical treatment with urseodeoxycholic acid is largely successful, some patients may progress to liver failure requiring liver transplantation. PBC is characterised by the presence of disease specific anti-mitochondrial (AMA) antibodies, which are pathognomonic for PBC development. The disease demonstrates an overwhelming female preponderance and virtually all women with PBC present in middle age. The reasons for this are unknown; however several environmental and immunological factors may be involved. As the immune systems ages, it become less self tolerant, and mounts a weaker response to pathogens, possibly leading to cross reactivity or molecular mimicry. Some individuals display immunological changes which encourage the development of autoimmune disease. Risk factors implicated in PBC include recurrent urinary tract infection in females, as well as an increased prevalence of reproductive complications. These risk factors may work in concert with and possibly even accelerate, immune system ageing, contributing to PBC development. This review will examine the changes that occur in the immune system with ageing, paying particular attention to those changes which contribute to the development of autoimmune disease with increasing age. The review also discusses risk factors which may account for the increased female predominance of PBC, such as recurrent UTI and oestrogens.
PMCID: PMC3238302  PMID: 22136162
ageing; apoptosis; autoantibody; autoimmunity; infection

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