Currently, no accepted medical therapy for patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is available. Case-control studies have shown an inverse association between PSC and smoking behavior, suggesting that nicotine might have a beneficial effect in PSC. The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and estimate the efficacy of oral nicotine in the treatment of PSC. Eight PSC patients who had never smoked received oral nicotine at a maximum dose of 6 mg four times a day for up to one year. Liver biochemistries and plasma cotinine levels were determined at entry and at three-month intervals during the study duration. Five patients completed one year of treatment, but three of them had to temporarily reduce the dose due to side effects. One patient completed only four months of treatment due to dizziness and heart palpitations. Two patients completed only one month of treatment due to reactivation of colitis requiring corticosteroid therapy. No significant changes in liver biochemistries were noted during the treatment period despite a significant increase in plasma cotinine levels. In conclusion, oral nicotine seems to have no beneficial effects in the treatment of PSC, and it is frequently associated with side effects necessitating permanent drug cessation.
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Oral nicotine
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
- Ulcerative colitis
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