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Abstract

Whether primary biliary cirrhosis recurs after orthotopic liver transplantation remains a controversial issue. Sixty consecutive patients with primary biliary cirrhosis with at least 1 yr of follow-up after liver transplantation were studied. All patients were treated with triple-drug immunosuppression (cyclospoine, prednisone, azathioprine). Hepatic biochemical parameters and protocol liver biopsy specimens were evaluated 1 wk, 3 wk, 4 mo and yearly after orthotopic liver transplantation and at times of liver dysfunction. Antimitochondrial antibody titers and IgM levels were determined at 4 mo and yearly. At the time of last follow-up, all patients had marked symptomatic improvement compared with their pretransplant condition, and 91% of the patients had normal hepatic biochemical parameters, including serum levels of alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin, ALT and IgM. In addition, all patients had significant decreases in antimitochondrial antibody titer (p = 0.0001) and significant decreases in serum levels of IgM (p = 0.0001). Forty-one of the 60 patients had near-normal liver histological appearance. Of those with abnormal histological appearance, five patients, 2 to 6 yr after orthotopic liver transplantation, had histological features typical of a florid duct lesion, suggesting recurrent primary biliary cirrhosis. All five patients with portal granulomas had normal hepatic biochemical values and were clinically asymptomatic. Two of the five patients had persistent antimitochondrial antibody titers. We consider the documented histological changes highly suggestive of recurrence of primary biliary cirrhosis after liver transplantation but, so far, have no evidence that the condition in these patients is progressive. (HEPATOLOGY 1993;18:1392–1398.)