Long-term treatment with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA; 13-15 mg/kg/day) in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) improves biochemical liver tests, delays histological progression and prolongs survival without liver transplantation. UDCA monotherapy appears sufficient for many patients as suggested by long-term observational data. However, the transplant-free survival rate of UDCA-treated patients remains significantly lower than that of an age- and sex-matched control population. Therefore, there is a continued need for new therapeutic options in PBC. In this article we review and discuss the following issues: the appropriate selection of patients requiring new therapeutic options, the role of budesonide in the management of these patients, and the emerging place of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha ligands as anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating agents in PBC.
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