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Osteoporosis in Primary Biliary Cholangitis: Prevalence, Impact and Management Challenges

Hirsh D Trivedi 1, Christopher J Danford 1, Daniela Goyes 1, Alan Bonder 1

DOI: 10.2147/CEG.S204638

Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is a chronic, cholestatic condition associated with symptoms that directly impact the quality of life in those afflicted with the disease. In addition to pruritus and fatigue, patients with PBC may develop metabolic bone disease from reduced bone density, such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures, as well as morbidity and mortality. The prevalence of osteoporosis in PBC is expected to increase in conjunction with the rising prevalence of PBC as a whole. Timely diagnosis, prevention and management of osteoporosis are crucial in order to optimize the quality of life. There is a paucity of data evaluating the management of osteoporosis in PBC. The optimal timing for diagnosis and monitoring is not yet established and is guided by expert opinion. National guidelines recommend screening for osteoporosis at the time of diagnosis of PBC. Monitoring strategies are based on results of initial screening and individual risk factors for bone disease. Identifying reduced bone density is imperative to institute timely preventive and treatment strategies. However, treatment remains challenging as efficacious therapies are currently lacking. The data on treatment of osteoporosis in PBC are mostly extrapolated from postmenopausal osteoporosis literature. However, this data has not directly translated to useful treatment strategies for PBC-related osteoporosis, partly because of the different pathophysiological mechanisms of the two diseases. The lack of useful preventive measures and efficacious treatment strategies remains the largest pitfall that challenges the management of patients with PBC. In this review, we comprehensively outline the epidemiology, clinical implications and challenges, as well as management strategies of PBC-related osteoporosis.