OBJECTIVE: There is no effective therapy for patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). Rats with experimental small bowel bacterial overgrowth develop hepatobiliary injury similar to PSC. The hepatobiliary injury results from peptidoglycan-polysaccharide-mediated activation of Kupffer cells, release of cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), and is prevented by pentoxifylline. Our aims were to assess the safety and effects of pentoxifylline on symptoms and biochemical liver tests in patients with PSC. METHODS: A total of 20 patients with clinical, cholangiographic, and histological features of PSC of varying severity were treated with pentoxifylline sustained release (SR) tablets (400 mg q.i.d.) for ≤1 yr. Serum alkaline phosphatase, aspartate aminotransferase, and bilirubin were monitored every 3 months for 1 year; serum TNF-α and TNF receptor subtypes I and II were assessed at baseline and 1 year. RESULTS: Of 20 patients, 16 tolerated pentoxifylline and completed the study. Two patients were withdrawn because of severe nausea, and two patients were noncompliant with medication and withdrew. Pentoxifylline did not significantly alter symptoms of fatigue or pruritus, serum liver tests, serum TNF-α or TNF receptor levels. CONCLUSIONS: In the current regimen, pentoxifylline alone does not significantly improve symptoms or liver tests in patients with PSC. (C) 2000 by Am. Coll. of Gastroenterology.
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