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Cutting edge issues in juvenile sclerosing cholangitis

      Abstract

      Sclerosing cholangitis (SC) is a rare chronic disorder characterised by inflammation and progressive obliterative fibrosis of the intrahepatic and/or extrahepatic bile ducts.
      Diagnosis is based on cholangiogram showing bile duct dilatation, narrowing and obliteration of the biliary tree, and histologically, on the presence of inflammatory bile duct damage leading to periductal fibrosis.
      In children the most common SC is associated with strong autoimmune features, overlapping with those of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH); this form is known as autoimmune sclerosing cholangitis, ASC.
      Conversely, primary SC (PSC), a condition in which the term “primary” indicates that aetiology and pathogenesis are unknown, is rare in paediatrics. Secondary SC (SSC) defines a cholangiopathy associated with an identifiable aetiology such as immunodeficiencies, infections or haematological disorders. ASC and PSC are strongly associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
      ASC responds biochemically well to immunosuppressive drugs and ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA). Primary forms are exclusively managed with oral UDCA, while in the secondary forms the medical treatment depends on the underlying aetiology.
      Despite treatment, SC often progresses to biliary cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease requiring liver transplantation. The disease can recur after transplant.
      Better understanding of pathogenic mechanisms and better treatment modalities are needed to improve the prognosis of this invalidating hepatic disorder.

      Keywords

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