Primary sclerosing cholangitis: diagnostic and management challenges
- Sanjeev Sirpal, Natasha Chandok
- Clinical and experimental gastroenterology
In previous studies, the majority of patients with the cholestatic liver diseases, primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), had increased hepatic copper (Cu) levels even in early stages of disease. We prospectively measured hepatic copper content by atomic absorption spectrophotometry in 55 patients with PBC, 6 patients with PSC, and 29 patients with other chronic noncholestatic liver diseases. Hepatic Cu content was normal in 22/61 (36%) of patients with PBC or PSC; 18 of the 22 did not have cirrhosis (82%). Hepatic Cu content increased with increasing stage of disease (r=0.61,P<0.001) and was positively correlated with serum total bilirubin (r=0.6,P<0.0001) and alkaline phosphatase (r=0.5,P<0.001). All patients with stage I and II disease had hepatic Cu<150 µg/g dry weight, and all patients with hepatic Cu>150 µg/g dry weight had stage III and IV disease. Hepatic Cu content is normal in early PBC and PSC. Copper accumulation in the liver in these cholestatic liver diseases is secondary to cholestasis rather than a primary phenomenon.