Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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It is possible that the main title of the report Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis is not the name you expected.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion


Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a rare progressive disorder characterized by inflammation, thickening, and abnormal formation of fibrous tissue (fibrosis) within the passages that carry bile from the liver (bile ducts). Both the bile ducts within the liver (intrahepatic) and outside the liver (extrahepatic) are affected. This often results in the obstruction or interruption of bile flow from the liver (cholestasis). Symptoms associated with PSC include fatigue and itching (pruritus), followed by yellowing of the skin, mucous membranes, and whites of the eyes (jaundice). Affected individuals may also have dark urine, light-colored stools, abdominal pain, and/or nausea. In some cases, the liver may also become abnormally enlarged (hepatomegaly). Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) eventually develops and many individuals will ultimately require a liver transplant. According to the medical literature, approximately 60 to 80 percent of individuals with PSC also have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), most often ulcerative colitis. The relationship between these disorders and the exact cause of PSC are not fully understood.


PSC is a complex disorder and the cause (etiology) and underlying manner the disease develops (pathogenesis) are not fully understood. PSC was first described in the medical literature in 1867. Some researchers believe that PSC represents a group of disorders or a disorder with several distinct subtypes (e.g. PSC with IBD or without IBD). It is likely that PSC may have different underlying causes in different individuals. PSC is a rapidly evolving disease concept and information about PSC is constantly changing and emerging as researchers work to better understand this disorder.

Supporting Organizations

American Autoimmune & Related Diseases

22100 Gratiot Ave.
Eastpointe, MI 48021
Tel: (586)776-3900
Fax: (586)776-3903
Tel: (800)598-4668

American Liver Foundation

39 Broadway, Suite 2700
New York, NY 10006
Fax: (212)483-8179
Tel: (800)465-4837

British Liver Trust

2 Southampton Road
Ringwood, BH24 1HY
United Kingdom
Tel: 1425481320
Fax: 1425481335
Tel: 8006527330

Canadian Liver Foundation

3100 Steeles Avenue East Suite 801
Markham Ontario, L3R 8T3
Tel: 4164913353
Fax: 9057521540
Tel: 8005635483

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311

NIH/National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive & Kidney Diseases

Office of Communications & Public Liaison
Bldg 31, Rm 9A06
Bethesda, MD 20892-2560
Tel: (301)496-3583

PSC Partners Seeking a Cure

5237 South Kenton Way
Englewood, CO 80111
Tel: (303)771-5227
Fax: (303)221-0757

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). For a full-text version of this report, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report.

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

Last Updated:  11/20/2013
Copyright  2013 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.