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Obeticholic acid for the treatment of primary biliary cholangitis in adult patients: clinical utility and patient selection

Authors Bowlus C

Received 14 June 2016

Accepted for publication 22 July 2016

Published 1 September 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 89—95


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Gerry Lake-Bakaar

Christopher L Bowlus

Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of California Davis, Davis, CA, USA

Abstract: Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), previously known as primary biliary “cirrhosis”, is a rare autoimmune liver disease characterized by the hallmark autoantibodies to mitochondrial antigens and immune-mediated destruction of small bile duct epithelial cells leading to cholestasis and cirrhosis. Surprisingly, while immune modulators have not been effective in the treatment of PBC, supplementation with the hydrophilic bile acid (BA) ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) has been demonstrated to slow the disease progression. However, a significant minority of PBC patients do not have a complete response to UDCA and remain at risk of continued disease progression. Although the mechanisms of action are not well understood, UDCA provided proof of concept for BA therapy in PBC. Obeticholic acid (OCA), a novel derivative of the human BA chenodeoxycholic acid, is a potent agonist of the nuclear hormone receptor farnesoid X receptor, which regulates BA synthesis and transport. A series of clinical trials of OCA in PBC, primarily in combination with UDCA, have established that OCA leads to significant reductions in serum alkaline phosphatase that are predicted to lead to improved clinical outcomes, while dose-dependent pruritus has been the most common adverse effect. On the basis of these studies, OCA was given conditional approval by the US Food and Drug Administration with plans to establish the long-term clinical efficacy of OCA in patients with advanced PBC.

Keywords: primary biliary cholangitis, nuclear receptors, farnesoid X receptor, bile acid, obeticholic acid, ursodeoxycholic acid

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