Big Study of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

This blog has reviewed multiple publications on primary sclerosing cholangitis (see blog posts below). Now, a study from 37 centers with 7121 patients with PSC has been published: TJ Weismuller et al. Gastroenterol 2017; 152: 1975-84. Given the relative infrequency of PSC, this retrospective report offers more insight into the predictors of the clinical course of PSC.

Key points:

  • Most of the patients in the study had large duct PSC (89.8%); 3.6% had small duct disease and 6.6% had overlapping PSC/autoimmune hepatitis.
  • Mean age of cohort at diagnosis was 38.5 yrs.
  • 70% of PSC patients developed IBD with ulcerative colitis (UC) about 5-times more common than Crohn’s disease.
  • 37% of patients met the primary endpoint of either liver transplantation or death
  • Individuals with small duct PSC had a favorable outcome; only one of 254 (0.4%) developed cholangiocarcinoma (CCA). Risk of primary endpoint was much lower in small duct PSC compared with classical PSC with an adjusted hazard ratio of 0.23.
  • Individuals with PSC/AIH variant also had a reduced risk of primary endpoint compared with classical PSC with an adjusted hazard ratio of 0.73.
  • Overall, CCA occurred in 594 patients (8.3%); the incidence of CCA changed markedly with the age of the patient.  In the youngest group (<20 years), the rate was 1.2 per 100 patient-years, it was 6.0 in 21-30 yr-olds, 9.0 for 31-40 yr-olds, 14.0 fr 41-50 year olds, 15.2 for 51-60 yr-olds, and 21.0 per 100 patient-years in those older than 60 years.
  • The absence of IBD, particularly UC, was associated with a lower risk PSC clinical course. Patients with UC had increased liver disease progression compared with patient’s with Crohn’s disease, with a HR of 1.56.
  • The median transplant-free survival time was 14.5 years; the estimated survival was approximately 21 years in the entire cohort

It is noted that an important limitation is that the cohort is from specialist centers and may not reflect a more typical population-based cohort; that is, this patient population is likely to be severely affected.

My take: Patients with small-duct PSC have a much lower risk of disease progression.

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