Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC) (cont.)
In this Article
Elevated serum cholesterol and xanthomas
Clofibrate (Atromid) should not be used for treating elevated serum cholesterol in PBC because it elevates (rather than lowers) the cholesterol levels in these patients. Moreover, this drug may worsen xanthomas and cause formation of gallstones containing cholesterol. Two studies indicate that UDCA therapy significantly reduces serum levels of cholesterol and is recommended for use in patients with xanthomas. A new class of drugs called statins inhibits formation of cholesterol and, to a lesser degree, triglycerides. The safety and effectiveness of the statins, however, have not been adequately studied in PBC. One of the common side effects of statins is liver injury. Thus, their use in a person with liver disease requires careful monitoring by a physician.
Malabsorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K)
It is recommended that patients with PBC take a multivitamin supplement without minerals to increase the dietary intake of fat-soluble vitamins. If the quantities of bile acids flowing through the bile ducts to the gut are marginal, intestinal absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins may not be adequate, even with supplements. Two strategies exist for this situation. First, patients can take Liqui-E with meals. Liqui-E is an over-the-counter liquid preparation of vitamin E that also increases the absorption of other fat-soluble vitamins in the diet or in multivitamin preparations. Second, the fat-soluble vitamins A and K can be given by injection into the muscle once a month. Remember, however, that women who might become pregnant, should not receive injections of vitamin A, because it can cause birth defects.