Primary biliary cholangitis is a cholestatic, chronic autoimmune liver disease with a wide individual variation in disease progression. The diagnosis is predominantly based on chronic elevation of alkaline phosphatase and the presence of anti-mitochondrial antibodies or other specific antinuclear antibodies (i.e. anti-gp210 and anti-sp100). Even in early-stage disease, health-related quality of life can be severely impaired by symptoms such as pruritus, fatigue, and sicca syndrome and metabolic bone disease should be assessed and treated. The prognosis of the disease is, however, largely determined by the development of cirrhosis and its complications. Ursodeoxycholic acid is associated with an improved prognosis and should be initiated and continued in all patients. Clinical outcome is related to the biochemical response to ursodeoxycholic acid, but the prognosis of those with an incomplete response is still better than those who remain untreated. Obeticholic acid was recently approved as second-line treatment and bezafibrate may serve as an adequate off-label alternative, particularly in patients with pruritus. Preliminary data suggest an additive effect of triple therapy with ursodeoxycholic acid, obeticholic acid, and bezafibrate, whereas other promising drugs are being evaluated in clinical trials.
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