Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a chronic, fibroinflammatory, cholestatic liver disease of unknown etiopathogenesis. PSC generally progresses to liver cirrhosis, is a major risk factor for hepatobiliary and colonic neoplasia, and confers a median survival to death or liver transplantation of only 12 years. Although it is well recognized that approximately 75% of patients with PSC also have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the significance of this association remains elusive. Accumulating evidence now suggests a potentially important role for the intestinal microbiota, and enterohepatic circulation of molecules derived therefrom, as a putative mechanistic link between PSC and IBD and a central pathobiological driver of PSC. In this concise review, we provide a summary of and perspectives regarding the relevant basic, translational, and clinical data, which, taken together, encourage further investigation of the role of the microbiota and microbial metabolites in the etiopathogenesis of PSC and as a potential target for novel pharmacotherapies.
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