Liver disease in cystic fibrosis

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2006 Jul:43 Suppl 1:S49-55. doi: 10.1097/01.mpg.0000226390.02355.52.


Liver involvement in Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is much less frequent than both pulmonary and pancreatic diseases that are present in 80-90% of CF patients; liver disease (LD) affects only one third of CF patients, however, because of the decreasing mortality from extrahepatic causes, its recognition and management is becoming a relevant clinical issue. Recent observations suggest that clinical expression of LD in CF may be influenced by genetic modifiers; their identification is an important issue because it may allow recognition of patients at risk for the development of LD at the time of diagnosis of CF and early institution of prophylactic strategies. Oral bile acid therapy, aimed at improving biliary secretion in terms of bile viscosity and bile acid composition, is currently the only available therapeutic approach for CF-associated LD. However, the impact of this therapy on the natural history of LD remains to be defined and long-term effectiveness on clinically relevant outcomes should be further investigated. Liver transplantation should be offered to CF patients with progressive liver failure and/or with life-threatening sequelae of portal hypertension, who also have mild pulmonary involvement that is expected to support long-term survival. The 1-year survival rate after transplantation in CF patients is approximately 80%, with beneficial effects on lung function, nutritional status, body composition and quality of life in most cases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bile Acids and Salts / therapeutic use
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypersplenism / diagnosis
  • Hypersplenism / therapy
  • Hypertension, Portal / diagnosis
  • Hypertension, Portal / therapy
  • Liver Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Liver Diseases / etiology
  • Liver Diseases / physiopathology
  • Liver Diseases / therapy*
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Portasystemic Shunt, Surgical
  • Risk Factors


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Gastrointestinal Agents