Journal of hepatology

Preventive administration of UDCA after liver transplantation for primary biliary cirrhosis is associated with a lower risk of disease recurrence.

PMID 26282232


Recurrence of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) after liver transplantation (LT) is not rare and can occasionally lead to severe graft dysfunction and retransplantation. Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is a safe and effective treatment for PBC. However, whether preventive administration of UDCA after LT could lower the incidence of PBC recurrence is unknown. Patients transplanted for PBC in five French and Swiss centers from 1988 to 2010 were included. Most patients from a single center received UDCA (10-15 mg/kg/d) preventively. Recurrence of PBC was histologically defined from biopsies routinely performed at 1, 5, 10, and 15 years of follow-up, and at any time when clinically indicated. A total of 90 patients with a 1-year minimum follow-up were studied retrospectively, including 19 (21%) patients receiving preventive UDCA. The mean follow-up was 12 years. Recurrence was diagnosed in 48 (53%) patients. The recurrence rates at 5, 10, and 15 years were 27%, 47%, and 61%, respectively. In a multivariate proportional hazards model adjusted for potential confounders and risk factors, preventive UDCA was the only factor affecting the risk of recurrence significantly (HR=0.32; 95% CI: 0.11-0.91). The 5, 10, and 15-year rates of recurrence were 11%, 21%, and 40%, respectively, under preventive UDCA, and 32%, 53%, and 70%, respectively, without preventive UDCA. Seven patients with recurrence (15%) progressed to cirrhosis, requiring retransplantation in one. However, neither recurrence nor preventive UDCA had a significant impact on survival. Preventive treatment with UDCA reduces the risk of PBC recurrence after LT.