Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy
|Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy|
|High magnification micrograph showing liver cholestasis.|
Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), also known as obstetric cholestasis, cholestasis of pregnancy, jaundice of pregnancy, and prurigo gravidarum, is a medical condition in which cholestasis occurs during pregnancy. It typically presents with itching and can lead to complications for both mother and baby.
Pruritus (itching) is a common symptom of pregnancy, affecting around 23% of women.. The majority of times, itching is a minor annoyance caused by changes to the skin, especially that of the abdomen. However, there are instances when itching may be a symptom of ICP. Although typically noticed on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, the itching can occur anywhere on the body.
ICP occurs most commonly in the third trimester, but can begin at any time during the pregnancy.
Signs and symptoms
Most women with this condition present in the third trimester (although it can present as early as seven weeks) with itching without a rash. Typically, the itching is localized to the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, but can be anywhere on the body.
Hallmarks of ICP include the following symptoms:
- Itching, in particular but not limited to that of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, without presence of a rash
- Itching that is more noticeable in the evening
- Darker urine
- Lighter stools
- Increased clotting time (due to possibly associated vitamin K deficiency)
- Increased nausea
- Decrease in appetite
- Jaundice (less than 10% of women)
- Upper right quadrant pain
Not all ICP sufferers have all of the above symptoms.
The causes of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy are still not fully understood, but are thought to be caused through a combination of genetics, hormones and environment. Hormones, environmental and genetic factors are all thought to contribute to the condition.
- ICP commonly occurs in the third trimester at the time when hormone levels are at their highest.
- Twin and triplet pregnancies, which are associated with higher hormone levels, show a higher incidence of ICP.
- ICP resolves quickly after delivery, when placental hormone production ceases.
- Older high-dose estrogen oral contraceptive pills could cause features of ICP.
Treatment with progesterone in the third trimester of pregnancy has been shown to be associated with the development of ICP, and levels of metabolites of progesterone, particularly sulfated progesterone, are higher in patients with ICP than unaffected women, suggesting that progesterone may have a bigger role than estrogen in ICP.
Clustering of cases of ICP in families, geographic variation in rates of ICP, and recurrence of ICP in 45-70% of subsequent pregnancies all suggest a genetic component to the disease. Genetic mutations in the hepatocellular transport protein ABCB4 (MDR3), which controls secretion of phosphatidylcholine into bile, have been found in cases of ICP.
Genetic mutations affecting hepatic bile salt transport molecules have also been found in patients with progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis. It has been found that mothers of patients with this disease have a higher incidence of ICP, suggesting that heterozygote carriers of these mutations are also predisposed to ICP.
In addition to genetic changes to bile salt transport molecules, high levels of estrogen glucuronides have been shown to inhibit the bile salt export pump (BSEP) ABCB11, and high levels of progesterone to inhibit the ABCB4 (MDR3) phospholipid transporter.
Consequently, both genetic mutations in hepatocyte proteins involved in bile secretion together with inhibition of those proteins by high levels of hormone metabolites in pregnancy may have roles in the pathogenesis of ICP.
A number of features of ICP suggest that environmental factors also have a role in the disease:
- It has been reported that the incidence of ICP is higher in winter than summer.
- The incidence of ICP in Chile has dropped from 14% of pregnancies before 1975 to 4% in 2016.
- ICP recurs in between 60% and 90% of subsequent pregnancies.
- Low serum selenium levels have been linked to ICP, although the role of selenium in bile secretion is not known.
ICP is diagnosed by blood tests including a serum bile acid test and liver function test. While most pregnant women experience some itch from time to time, itching without a visible rash, or persistent or extensive itch symptoms should be reported to the midwife or obstetrician. It is important to note that as the level of itch does not correlate with bile acid levels (shown to be the most likely cause of stillbirth in ICP), the itch in ICP can range from being mild to severe.
To obtain a diagnosis of ICP, a liver function test and a serum bile acid test should be requested. Although the ALT level may be raised, 20% of women with ICP will always have a normal LFT test result. This, plus pruritus of palms and soles, could be considered as potentially diagnostic of ICP but only with elevated bile acid levels (however LFTs are not always elevated in ICP patients). The serum bile acid blood test for ICP is a quantitative measurement of bile acids.
Other problems with the liver that occur in pregnancy should be considered by the treating clinician. These include preeclampsia, the HELLP syndrome, and acute fatty liver of pregnancy. Furthermore, other causes of hepatitis, like hepatitis viruses, cancer and certain medications, should also be considered.
Many providers will prescribe ursodeoxycholic acid. The most recent trial, PITCHES, did not show an overall beneficial effect, but some researchers believe that it may still be useful to offer ursodeoxycholic acid to women whose bile acids are > 40 μmol/litre. While there is no cure for ICP, and no way to guarantee a successful outcome, studies have shown a slightly better fetal and maternal outcome from administration of ursodeoxycholic acid, whereas cholestyramine appears to only relieve itching.
There is no evidence that giving oral water-soluble Vitamin K may help to avoid the risk of hemorrhage at delivery. However, experts in ICP will prescribe this if the woman reports pale stools, has very severe ICP (bile acids > 100 μmol/litre) or has a known clotting problem.
Delivery from 34 weeks may be important to reduce the risk of stillbirth, as a recent study identified the level of bile acids at which stillbirth risk rises. This research, published in The Lancet, also suggests that around 90% of women with ICP could wait until 39 weeks of pregnancy to be induced. However, this relies on regular bile acid testing with rapid return of results.
Risks if untreated
Maternal consequences include the following:
- Itching, which can become intense and debilitating
- Spontaneous premature labour when bile acids rise above 40 μmol/litre
Fetal consequences include:
- Fetal distress
- Meconium ingestion
In the United States, some researchers have suggested that the risk of stillbirth is lower if induction occurs at 36 weeks. Whilst Ovadia's research suggests differently, it is important to note that in the United States bile acid tests can take up to seven days to be processed, and this means that it may be more prudent to base delivery on the US research.
- ICP Support
- ICP Care
- Cholestatic pruritus
- List of cutaneous conditions
- Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) an itchy condition of pregnancy that is associated with a rash.
- Rapini, Ronald P.; Bolognia, Jean L.; Jorizzo, Joseph L. (2007). Dermatology: 2-Volume Set. St. Louis: Mosby. ISBN 978-1-4160-2999-1.
- Tunzi M, Gray GR (January 2007). "Common skin conditions during pregnancy". American Family Physician. 75 (2): 211–8. PMID 17263216.
- Kenyon, AP; Tribe, RM; Nelson-Piercy, C; Girling, JC; Williamson, C; Seed, PT; Vaughn-Jones, S; Shennan, AH (2010). "Pruritus in pregnancy: A study of anatomical distribution and prevalence in relation to the development of obstetric cholestasis". Obstetric Medicine. 3 (1): 25–29. doi:10.1258/om.2010.090055. PMID 27582836. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
- Dixon, PH; Wadsworth, CA; Chambers, J; Donnelly, J; Cooley, S; Buckley, R; Mannino, R; Jarvis, S; Syngelaki, A; Geenes, V; Paul, P; Sothinathan, M; Kubitz, R; Lammert, F; Tribe, RM; Ch'ng, CL; Marschall, HU; Glantz, A; Khan, SA; Nicolaides, K; Whittaker, J; Geary, M; Williamson, C (2014). "A comprehensive analysis of common genetic variation around six candidate loci for intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy". American Journal of Gastroenterology. 109 (1): 76–84. doi:10.1038/ajg.2013.406. PMID 24366234. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
- Dixon, PH; Sambrotta, M; Chambers, J; Taylor-Harris, P; Syngelaki, A; Nicolaides, K; Knisely, AS; Thompson, RJ; Williamson, C (2017). "An expanded role for heterozygous mutations of ABCB4, ABCB11, ATP8B1, ABCC2 and TJP2 in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy". Scientific Reports. 7: 11823. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-11626-x. PMID 28924228. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
- Pusl T, Beuers U (2007). "Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy". Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. 2: 26. doi:10.1186/1750-1172-2-26. PMC 1891276. PMID 17535422.
- Lammert F, Marschall HU, Glantz A, Matern S (December 2000). "Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy: molecular pathogenesis, diagnosis and management". J. Hepatol. 33 (6): 1012–21. doi:10.1016/S0168-8278(00)80139-7. PMID 11131439.
- Gonzalez MC, Reyes H, Arrese M, et al. (July 1989). "Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy in twin pregnancies". Journal of Hepatology. 9 (1): 84–90. doi:10.1016/0168-8278(89)90079-2. PMID 2768798.
- Reyes H, Sjövall J (March 2000). "Bile acids and progesterone metabolites in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy". Annals of Medicine. 32 (2): 94–106. doi:10.3109/07853890009011758. PMID 10766400. S2CID 25925651.
- Abu-Hayyeh, S (2015). "Prognostic and mechanistic potential of progesterone sulfates in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy and pruritus gravidarum". Hepatology. 63 (4): 1287–1298. doi:10.1002/hep.28265. PMC 4869673. PMID 26426865.
- Abu-Hayyeh, S; Ovadia, C; Lieu, T; Jensen, DD; Chambers, J; Dixon, PH; Lovgren-Sandblom, A; Bolier, R; Tolenaars, D; Kremer, AE; Syngelaki, A; Noori, M; Williams, D; Marin, JJG; Monte, MJ; Nicolaides, KH; Beuers, U; Oude-Elferink, R; Seed, PT; Chappell, L; Marschall, H-U; Bunnett, NW; Williamson, C (2016). "Prognostic and mechanistic potential of progesterone sulfates in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy and pruritus gravidarum". Hepatology. 63 (4): 1287–1298. doi:10.1002/hep.28265. PMID 26426865. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
- Dixon, PH (2017). "An expanded role for heterozygous mutations of ABCB4, ABCB11, ATP8B1, ABCC2 and TJP2 in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy". Scientific Reports. 7 (1): 11823. Bibcode:2017NatSR...711823D. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-11626-x. PMC 5603585. PMID 28924228.
- Stieger B, Fattinger K, Madon J, Kullak-Ublick GA, Meier PJ (2000). "Drug- and estrogen-induced cholestasis through inhibition of the hepatocellular bile salt export pump (Bsep) of rat liver". Gastroenterology. 118 (2): 422–30. doi:10.1016/S0016-5085(00)70224-1. PMID 10648470.
- Debry P, Nash EA, Neklason DW, Metherall JE (January 1997). "Role of multidrug resistance P-glycoproteins in cholesterol esterification". Journal of Biological Chemistry. 272 (2): 1026–31. doi:10.1074/jbc.272.2.1026. PMID 8995398.
- Williamson, Catherine; Geenes, Victoria (2014). "Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy". Obstetrics and Gynecology. 124 (1): 120–33. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000000346. PMID 24901263. S2CID 9986882.
- Ovadia, Caroline; Williamson, Catherine (2016). "Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy: recent advances". Clinics in Dermatology. 34 (3): 327–34. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2016.02.004. PMID 27265070.
- Kauppila A, Korpela H, Mäkilä UM, Yrjänheikki E (January 1987). "Low serum selenium concentration and glutathione peroxidase activity in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy". British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Edition). 294 (6565): 150–2. doi:10.1136/bmj.294.6565.150. PMC 1245162. PMID 3109544.
- Conti-Ramsden, F; McEwan, M; Hill, R; Wade, J; Abraham, G; Buckeldee, O; Williamson, C; Knight, CL; Girling, J; Chappell, LC (2019). "Detection of additional abnormalities or co-morbidities in women with suspected intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy". Obstetric Medicine. doi:10.1177/1753495X19868873. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
- Chappell, LC; Chambers, J; Dixon, PH; Dorling, J; Hunter, R; Bell, JL; Bowler, U; Hardy, P; Juszczak, E; Linsell, L; Rounding, C; Smith, C; Williamson, C; Thornton, JG (2019). "Ursodeoxycholic acid versus placebo in the treatment of women with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) to improve perinatal outcomes: protocol for a randomised controlled trial (PITCHES)". Lancet. 394 (10201): 849–860. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(19)31270-X. PMID 31378395. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
- Walker, Kate F.; Chappell, Lucy C.; Hague, William M.; Middleton, Philippa; Thornton, Jim G. (27 July 2020). "Pharmacological interventions for treating intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 7: CD000493. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000493.pub3. ISSN 1469-493X. PMC 7389072. PMID 32716060.
- Ovadia, Caroline (2019). "Association of adverse perinatal outcomes of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy with biochemical markers: results of aggregate and individual patient data meta-analyses". Lancet. 393 (10174): 899–909. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31877-4. PMC 6396441. PMID 30773280. S2CID 72333644.
- Glantz, A; Marschall, HU; Mattsson, LA (2004). "Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy: Relationships between bile acid levels and fetal complication rates". Hepatology. 40: 467–474. doi:10.1002/hep.20336. PMID 15368452. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
- Geenes V, Williamson C (2009). "Intrahepatic Cholestasis of pregnancy". World Journal of Gastroenterology. 15 (17): 2049–2066. doi:10.3748/wjg.15.2049. PMC 2678574. PMID 19418576.
- Fisk NM, Storey GN: "Fetal outcome in obstetric cholestasis. Br J Obstet Gynaec 1988;95:1137- 1143.
- Zecca E, Costa S, Lauriola V; et al. (2003). "Bile acid pneumonia: A "new" form of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome?". Pediatrics. 114 (1): 269–272. doi:10.1542/peds.114.1.269. PMID 15231944.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Shaw D, Frohlich J, Wittmann BA, Willms M (1982). "A prospective study of 18 patients with cholestasis of pregnancy". Am J Obstet Gynecol. 142 (6): 621–625. doi:10.1016/s0002-9378(16)32430-9. PMID 7065033.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Davies MH, Silva RC, Jones SR; et al. (1995). "Fetal mortality associated with cholestasis of pregnancy and the potential benefit of therapy with ursodeoxycholic acid". Gut. 37 (4): 580–584. doi:10.1136/gut.37.4.580. PMC 1382915. PMID 7489950.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Puljic A, Kim E, Page J; et al. (2015). "The risk of infant and fetal death by each additional week of expectant management in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy by gestational age". Am J Obstet Gynecol. 212 (5): 667.e1–5. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2015.02.012. PMID 25687562.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)