Pathogen infections and primary biliary cholangitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is a multi-factorial disease caused by the interaction of both genetic predisposition and environmental triggers. Bacterial infection has been investigated most intensively, both epidemiologically and experimentally, as a prime environmental aetiology in PBC. The association of recurrent history of urinary tract infection (UTI) with PBC has been frequently confirmed by several large-scale, case–control studies, despite variation in geographic area or case-finding methods. Escherichia coli is a predominant pathogen in most cases with UTI. Animal studies and molecular mimicry analysis between the human and E. coli E2 subunit of the 2-oxo-acid dehydrogenase complexes demonstrated that E. coli infection is a key factor in breaking immunological tolerance against the mitochondria, resulting in the production of anti-mitochondrial autoantibodies (AMA), the disease-specific autoantibodies of PBC. Novosphingobium aromaticivorans, a ubiquitous xenobiotic-metabolizing bacterium, is another candidate which may be involved in the aetiology of PBC. Meanwhile, improved environmental hygiene and increased prevalence of PBC, especially in males, may argue against the aetiological role of bacterial infection in PBC. Multiple mechanisms can result in the loss of tolerance to mitochondrial autoantigens in PBC; nonetheless, bacterial infection is probably one of the dominant pathways, especially in female patients. Notably, there is a rising prevalence of male patients with PBC. With increasing exposure to environmental xenobiotics in both genders, studies directed towards identifying the environmental culprit with systematically designed case–control studies are much needed to further determine the environmental factors and role of bacterial infections in PBC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • anti-mitochondrial autoantibodies
  • Escherichia coli
  • molecular mimicry
  • Novosphingobium aromaticivorans
  • pyruvate dehydrogenase E2 subunit
  • urinary tract infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Pathogen infections and primary biliary cholangitis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this