Background/aims: Patients with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) frequently develop dominant stenoses of the bile ducts and bacterial infections represent a major problem in such patients. In the present study, the role of fungal infections of the bile ducts has been evaluated.
Methods: In a prospective non-randomized trial, in 67 consecutive patients with PSC, 148 bile samples, each taken at one endoscopic examination, were microbiologically analysed.
Results: Candida species were found in 8/67 patients whereas Aspergillus was not detected. Seven patients with biliary Candida had a dominant stenosis and one had a wide papillotomy with chronic ascending cholangitis. Altogether 7/49 of patients with dominant stenosis and 1/18 of patients without dominant stenosis had Candida in their bile. All patients with biliary Candida intermittently had received antibiotics and had advanced disease with cholestasis. Candida disappeared spontaneously in 2/7 patients, cleared after antifungal treatment in 2, and persisted in 3 patients. Patients with biliary Candida had more severe cholangitis with higher CRP and serum bilirubin compared to those without Candida infection.
Conclusions: This is the first report on the identification of Candida species in the bile of patients with PSC. Apart from bacterial also fungal infection of the bile ducts should be considered in the treatment of such patients.