From pathogenesis to novel therapies in the treatment of primary biliary cholangitis

Vincenzo Ronca, Marco Carbone, Francesca Bernuzzi, Federica Malinverno, Hani S. Mousa, M. Eric Gershwin, Pietro Invernizzi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Introduction: Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is an immune-mediated liver disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the intrahepatic bile ducts, causing progressive ductopenia, cholestasis and fibrosis, and leading to liver failure. Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is the first-line therapy for the treatment of PBC patients. This is effective in majority of patients; however, up to 20 percent of patients have an incomplete response to UDCA therapy and have a reduced prognosis as compared to healthy individuals. Obeticholic acid (OCA) has been recently registered as second-line therapy for patients with incomplete response to UDCA, with plans to demonstrate the long-term clinical efficacy. Areas covered: Recent evolution in our understanding of disease mechanisms is leading to the advent of new and re-purposed therapeutic agents targeting key processes in the etiopathogenesis. Several therapeutic targets have been proposed which can be categorized into three compartments: immune, biliary and fibrosis. In this review we describe the main biological mechanisms underpinning disease development and progression in PBC and the new targeted therapies on the horizon. Expert commentary: Testing new drugs towards hard clinical endpoints is challenging in PBC due to its low prevalence and the slow progression of the disease. Novel promising biomarkers are under study and should be evaluated as surrogate endpoints in clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1121-1131
Number of pages11
JournalExpert Review of Clinical Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2 2017


  • ASBT antagonists
  • autoimmune liver disease
  • FGF-19
  • fibrates
  • novel therapies
  • OCA
  • Primary biliary cholangitis
  • TGR-5 agonist
  • ursodeoxycholic acid
  • Ustekinumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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