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Papers of the Week

2022 Oct 06




Serum Bile Acid Profiling and Mixed Model Analysis Reveal Biomarkers Associated with Pruritus Reduction in Maralixibat-Treated Patients with BSEP Deficiency.


Progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC) is a debilitating disease manifest by severe cholestasis, intractable pruritus and growth delay that ultimately leads to liver failure or transplantation. Maralixibat (MRX) was recently approved for the treatment of cholestatic pruritus in patients with Alagille syndrome. The aim of this study was to determine whether specific changes in the composition of the serum bile acid metabolome could predict pruritus response to treatment. Serum BAs (sBA) and 7α-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one (7α-C4), a surrogate marker of BA synthesis, were monitored by ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry over 72 weeks in PFIC patients with mild to moderate non-truncating bile salt export pump (BSEP) mutations ( = 19) treated with MRX. The weekly itch reported outcome observer (ItchRO[Obs]) score measured pruritus severity. Linear mixed models (LMM) were applied to explore the effects of individual sBA profiles and their relationship to pruritus response. Changes in the composition of sBA correlated with pruritus improvement. Notably, the trajectory of serum total and individual BA species and 7α-C4 were significantly associated with ItchRO[Obs] score ( < 0.05). These results reveal that beyond simple total sBA concentrations, specific changes to the BA metabolome are associated with pruritus reduction in patients with BSEP deficiency, thus providing further insight into causal relationship of bile acids and pruritus.