Pruritus associated with cholestasis
Terán, A.; Fábrega, E.; Pons-Romero, F.
Gastroenterologia y Hepatologia 33(4): 313-322
ISSN/ISBN: 0210-5705 PMID: 19836105 DOI: 10.1016/j.gastrohep.2009.07.006
Pruritus is commonly associated with cholestatic disorders and shows wide interindividual variability. The presence of skin lesions due to scratching and the application of a visual analogue scale are useful for clinical evaluation. Although the pathophysiology of this entity is not well understood, advances have recently been made in understanding of the pruritoceptive neural pathway, which shares certain similarities with the nociceptive pathway, although there are other distinguishing characteristics such as the action of a specific neurotransmitter, GPR, on the first synapsis at the posterior horn of the spinal cord. Amongst the modulator systems of the pruritoceptive pathway is the action of the endogenous opioids. An increase of these opioids in cholestatic situations is the most widely accepted hypothesis for pruritus in these patients. Some treatments have proven efficacy in randomized clinical trials in patients with cholestatic disorders, such as anion exchange resins, rifampicin, opioid antagonists and ursodeoxycholic acid; the latter is especially useful in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy.