The association between soluble CD163, disease severity, and ursodiol treatment in patients with primary biliary cholangitis

Lars Bossen, Tobias Stemann Lau, Mette Bak Nielsen, Marlene Christina Nielsen, Astrid Højmark Andersen, Peter Ott, Sabine Becker, Henning Glerup, Lise Svenningsen, Martin Eivindson, Linda Kornerup, Niels Bjørndal Kjeldsen, Anders Neumann, Holger Jon Møller, Peter Jepsen, Henning Grønbæk

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INTRODUCTION: The macrophage activation marker soluble (s)CD163 is associated with disease severity and prognosis in patients with primary biliary cholangitis (PBC). Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) treatment attenuates fibrosis progression in PBC patients, but its effect on macrophage activation is unclear. We examined the effect of UDCA on macrophage activation, as determined by sCD163 levels.

METHODS: We included 2 cohorts of PBC patients; 1 cohort with prevalent PBC patients, and 1 cohort of incident PBC patients before start of UDCA treatment and with follow-up after 4 weeks and 6 months. We measured sCD163 and liver stiffness in both cohorts. Further, we measured sCD163 and TNF-α shedding in vitro in monocyte-derived macrophages after UDCA and lipopolysaccharide incubation.

RESULTS: We included 100 patients with prevalent PBC [93% women, median age 63 y (interquartile range: 51-70)] and 47 patients with incident PBC [77% women, median age 60 y (49-67)]. Prevalent PBC patients had a lower median sCD163 of 3.54 mg/L (2.77-4.72) than incident PBC patients with a median sCD163 of 4.33 mg/L (2.83-5.99) at inclusion. Patients with an incomplete response to UDCA and patients with cirrhosis had higher sCD163 than responders to UDCA and noncirrhosis patients. After 4 weeks and 6 months of UDCA treatment median sCD163 decreased by 4.6% and 9.0%, respectively. In in vitro experiments, UDCA attenuated shedding of TNF-α, but not sCD163, from monocyte-derived macrophages.

CONCLUSION: In PBC patients, sCD163 levels correlated with liver disease severity and treatment response to UDCA. Further, after 6 months of UDCA treatment, we observed a decrease in sCD163, which may be related to the treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0068
JournalHepatology Communications
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Humans
  • Female
  • Middle Aged
  • Male
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid/therapeutic use
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary/drug therapy
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha/therapeutic use
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics/therapeutic use
  • Patient Acuity
  • Aged


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