Women and Primary Biliary Cirrhosis

Ying Sun, Krista Haapanen, Baosen Li, Weici Zhang, Judith A Van de Water, M. Eric Gershwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Primary biliary cirrhosis occurs more frequently in women, and previous studies indicated that the average age of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) onset makes pregnancy in PBC patients uncommon. However, more recently, improved diagnostic testing has enabled detection of PBC in younger women, including those of childbearing age. This has led investigators to become increasingly interested in the relationship between the ontogeny of PBC and pregnancy. Published cases indicate that the typical age for pregnant women to be diagnosed with PBC is in the early 30s, and that during gestation, pruritus and jaundice are the most common symptoms. During gestation, susceptible women may experience onset of PBC resulting from the drastic changes in female hormones; this would include not only the mitochondrial damage due to accumulation of bile acids but also changes in the immune response during the different stages of pregnancy that might play an important role in the breakdown of self-tolerance. The mechanisms underlying the potential relationship between PBC and pregnancy warrant further investigation. For women first diagnosed with PBC during gestation, or those for whom first appearance of a flare up occurs during and postpartum, investigation of the immune response throughout gestation could provide new avenues for immunologic therapeutic intervention and the discovery of new treatment strategies for PBC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-300
Number of pages16
JournalClinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Autoimmunity
  • Female predominance
  • Gender and immunity
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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