Study Finds That Denosumab can Boost Bone Density in Primary Biliary Cholangitis and Autoimmune Hepatitis

According to a story from Healio, a recent study has illustrated that the drug denosumab can improve the bone density of patients with primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) and autoimmune hepatitis during long term use. The treatment did not cause any serious adverse side effects. The treatment could allow patients with this rare disease to have an effective treatment for one of the most serious complications of the illness.

Autoimmune hepatitis is a rare disease of the liver in which the body’s own immune system begins to mistakenly attack cells of the liver, triggering an inflammatory response.Symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis include abdominal pain, fatigue, jaundice, joint pain, liver failure, weight loss, fever, and nausea. The treatment of the disease typically involves the use of immunosuppressants, such as corticosteroids or chemotherapy agents. To learn more about autoimmune hepatitis, click here.

Primary biliary cholangitis, less commonly referred to as primary biliary cirrhosis, is an autoimmune disease that affects the liver. It is most characterized by progressive damage to the bile ducts, which over time allows bile and other toxic substances to build up in the liver. Symptoms include reduced bone density, skin lesions, fatigue (sometimes severe), jaundice, abdominal swelling, hepatic encephalopathy, and enlarged spleen. To learn more about primary biliary cholangitis, click here.

Denosumab works to improve bone density by decreasing the rate of bone resorption and inhibiting the activity and development of osteoclasts. These are a type of bone cell that breaks bones down, which is a normal part of the regular maintenance of bones themselves. An earlier short term study, that lasted for a year, was the first to reveal that this drug could be useful for treating bone density in these illnesses.

The long term study included six patients with primary biliary cholangitis and four with autoimmune hepatitis. These patients received a dose of denosumab every six months for a period of three years. Over time, characteristics of bone density were able to steadily improve. The authors of this study concluded that the drug could be a viable treatment for bone density and could serve as an alternative to bisphosphonates, which are also used to control bone density and prevent osteoporosis.


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