Primary Biliary Cholangitis

About PBC

PBC: the basics

PBC is an autoimmune liver disease1,2
  • The body’s immune system (which is designed to protect you against infections) mistakes your bile duct cells in the liver as foreign objects and attacks them
  • When this happens, this causes inflammation and progressive damage to the liver ducts
PBC is chronic and progressive 1,2
  • PBC will not go away and can get worse
  • But, with proper treatment, it is possible to manage PBC
PBC affects your bile ducts 1,2
  • Bile ducts play an important role in maintaining a healthy liver
  • PBC damages the bile ducts, causing a buildup of bile in the liver (known as cholestasis)
  • Cholestasis can cause harmful scarring, known as fibrosis
  • When fibrosis gets worse, it can result in cirrhosis – which severely interferes with the liver function
  • In PBC, cirrhosis is not related to drinking alcohol

What causes PBC? 1,2

  • The exact cause is still unknown; however, it is known that PBC is not caused by drinking alcohol
  • PBC is not your fault and it’s not contagious
  • Environmental toxins, such as cigarette smoke or chemical exposure, may play a role in causing PBC
  • Scientists believe that PBC can be inherited - if someone in your family has PBC, other members are more likely to have it

What’s in the name? 2


A disease that starts spontaneously and without an obvious cause


Related to or affecting the bile ducts in the liver


Inflammation of the bile ducts

Understanding PBC

A short, educational video on the pathogenesis of PBC


  1. PBC Foundation. About PBC. Available at: Last accessed: November 2023.
  2. Canadian Liver Foundation. Primary Biliary Cholangitis. Available at: Last accessed: November 2023.