The Impact of Ursodeoxycholic Acid on Cancer, Dysplasia and Mortality in Ulcerative Colitis Patients With Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Nov 1;22(9):783-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2005.02650.x.


Background: Colorectal cancer in primary sclerosing cholangitis patients with ulcerative colitis is mostly right-sided where concentrations of carcinogenic secondary bile acids are highest.

Aim: To investigate whether ursodeoxycholic acid could be chemopreventive for colorectal cancer.

Methods: A historical cohort study was performed on primary sclerosing cholangitis patients with ulcerative colitis where the 28 patients (cases) who were treated with ursodeoxycholic acid for at least 6 months (mean 3.4 +/- 2.7 years) were compared with the 92 patients (controls) who were not treated with ursodeoxycholic acid. The primary outcomes were colorectal cancer and dysplasia. The secondary outcome was overall mortality.

Results: The cumulative incidence of dysplasia or cancer was not significantly different between cases and controls (P = 0.17 by log-rank test). The adjusted relative risk for cases of developing dysplasia or cancer was 0.59 (95% CI 0.26-1.36). The cumulative mortality was significantly different between groups (P = 0.02 by log-rank test). The adjusted relative risk for cases of death was 0.44 (95% CI 0.22-0.90).

Conclusion: In ulcerative colitis patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis, ursodeoxycholic acid did not reduce the risk of developing cancer or dysplasia. However, ursodeoxycholic acid may reduce mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics / therapeutic use*
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / complications
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / drug therapy*
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / mortality
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / complications
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / mortality
  • Colon / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Male
  • Rectum / pathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / therapeutic use*


  • Cholagogues and Choleretics
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid