Metabolic Syndrome Associated With Primary Biliary Cirrhosis

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Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is characterized by a long natural history and a low incidence of cardiovascular events despite high serum cholesterol levels. The role of any metabolic conditions (obesity, hypertension, diabetes) in association with PBC has not been analyzed, however.


To assess the influence of metabolic syndrome (MS) on response to ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) and the survival in PBC patients.


The historical database (1975 to 2011) comprising consecutively enrolled PBC patients with a mean follow-up of 123 months (range, 12 to 425 mo) was used. All patients were treated with UDCA (15 mg/kg/d). Responders to UDCA were defined as patients achieving at least a 40% drop in their alkaline phosphatase levels after 1 year. MS was defined according to the American Heart Association criteria. Survival was analyzed by means of Kaplan-Meier curves.


A total of 171 PBC patients were eligible for the study; 55 of them (32.1%) fulfilled the criteria for MS at presentation. Liver function tests and Mayo score were found comparable in PBC patients with and without MS. Histologic stages were similar in the 2 groups at the baseline. Significantly more cardiovascular events occurred in patients with MS during the follow-up (P<0.0001). Response to UDCA was greater in the group without MS, but the difference was not statistically significant. The Kaplan-Meier curves were similar in the 2 groups.


When associated with MS, PBC should be monitored carefully due to the risk of cardiovascular events.

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