Hepatobiliary manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease

Andres J. Yarur, Frank Czul, Cynthia Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) may present with several hepatic abnormalities. Some of these liver diseases are benign and only require observation, whereas others may cause liver failure and require liver transplantation. The aim of this review was to present and summarize the latest evidence on the most common liver diseases seen in patients with IBD. These manifestations can be divided in to 3 groups: those that are seen in association with IBD, those that are due to metabolic and physiologic changes induced by the IBD and those that are secondary to the drugs used in the treatment of IBD. Primary sclerosing cholangitis is one of the most common hepatobiliary manifestations of IBD that is more prevalent in patients with ulcerative colitis. There is no approved medical treatment for primary sclerosing cholangitis and about 50% of patients will require liver transplantation within 10 to 15 years from the time of diagnosis. Among the drugs that are commonly used in the treatment of IBD, thiopurines and methotrexate impose the higher risk of hepatotoxicity. In most cases, dose adjustment and avoidance of hepatotoxins will normalize the liver tests and discontinuation of the drug is required in a minority of cases. Reactivation of hepatitis B virus during immunosuppressive therapy is a major concern and adequate screening and vaccination is warranted. The approach to a patient with IBD who presents with abnormal liver chemistries can be challenging not only because 2 or more conditions can co-exist but also because management must be individualized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1655-1667
Number of pages13
JournalInflammatory bowel diseases
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Azathioprine
  • Crohn's disease
  • Drug-induced liver disease
  • Hepatitis B
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Infliximab
  • Liver diseases
  • Mercaptopurine
  • Methotrexate
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Ulcerative colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology


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