The interrelation between sclerosing cholangitis and ulcerative colitis in patients undergoing liver transplantation

Ann Surg. 1992 Jun;215(6):598-603; discussion 604-5. doi: 10.1097/00000658-199206000-00006.


Thirty-six patients underwent orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) for primary sclerosing cholangitis under cyclosporine, azathioprine, and steroid immunosuppression. Of these patients, 29 suffered from chronic ulcerative colitis. The purpose of this study is to determine (1) whether replacement of the diseased liver and the altered immunocompetence suppresses the manifestation of chronic ulcerative colitis, and (2) if active colonic disease alters allograft function. Thirty of 36 patients survived OLT. After OLT, seven of 14 patients with symptomatic colon disease at the time of transplantation continue to suffer from active chronic ulcerative colitis, and three of 13 who were asymptomatic developed clinically active disease. Intractable colonic disease was the indication for post-OLT proctocolectomy in three patients, and one refused an indicated colectomy. Despite the long duration of the disease, none developed colonic malignancy. Long-term graft assessment showed good hepatocyte synthetic function in patients suffering from either active or inactive disease. Liver alkaline phosphatase, however, was significantly higher in patients suffering from active colonic disease. Furthermore, the alkaline phosphatase in symptomatic patients was higher than that seen in a matched cohort undergoing OLT for chronic active hepatitis or primary biliary cirrhosis. These results suggest that (1) liver replacement and immunosuppression in patients suffering from sclerosing cholangitis and ulcerative colitis do not alter the course of the colon disease, and (2) active chronic ulcerative colitis does not adversely affect allograft function, although elevation of alkaline phosphatase may be the harbinger of recurrence over the long term.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / complications*
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / pathology
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / surgery
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / complications*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Transplantation* / mortality
  • Male
  • Recurrence