Keratin 19 demonstration of canal of hering loss in primary biliary cirrhosis: “Minimal Change PBC”?

Authors

  • Fahad M. Khan,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases, Beth Israel Medical Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Arathi Rajendra Komarla,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases, Beth Israel Medical Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Paulo G. Mendoza,

    1. Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Medical Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY
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  • Henry C. Bodenheimer Jr,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases, Beth Israel Medical Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY
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  • Neil D. Theise

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases, Beth Israel Medical Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY
    2. Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Medical Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY
    • Division of Digestive Diseases, Beth Israel Medical Center, First Avenue at 16th St., New York NY 10003
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    • fax: 212-420-4373


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.

Abstract

Liver biopsy is important for diagnosing primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). Prior investigations suggest that immunostaining for biliary keratin 19 (K19) may show the earliest changes suspicious for PBC, namely, loss of the canals of Hering (CoH). We aimed to study the clinical outcomes of patients whose biopsy specimens appeared histologically near normal or with minimal inflammatory changes, but in which K19 staining revealed widespread periportal CoH loss, a finding we termed “minimal change PBC.” Ten patients were identified prospectively as having nearly normal or mildly inflamed biopsy specimens without diagnostic or suggestive histologic features of PBC, but with near complete CoH loss; six had available follow-up clinical data, one had follow-up biopsy. Controls for clinical and/or K19 analysis included six normal livers and biopsy specimens from 10 patients with confirmed early PBC, 10 with early stage chronic hepatitis C (CHC), and nine with resolving, self-limited hepatitis (RSLH). Staining for K19 in normal controls, livers with “minimal change” PBC, CHC, and RSLH showed 9.2 ± 6.0, 0.44 ± 0.37 (P < 0.0001), 5.7 ± 4.6 (n.s.), 4.1 ± 2.1 (P < 0.02) CoH per portal tract, respectively. Patients with available clinical follow up, compared to patients with diagnostic early-stage PBC biopsies, showed identical treatment responses to ursodeoxycholic acid, similar rates and types of nonhepatic autoimmune diseases, and/or subsequent development of autoimmune hepatitis overlap syndrome. Conclusion: We suggest that CoH loss demonstrated by K19 immunostaining is an early feature in PBC. Clinical findings in the years following biopsy, including response to ursodeoxycholic acid, show identical changes to patients with biopsy confirmed PBC. We suggest that this “minimal change” feature may support a clinical diagnosis of PBC even in the absence of characteristic, granulomatous, duct destructive lesions. (HEPATOLOGY 2013)

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