Liver diseases unique to pregnancy: a 2010 update.

  • Yannick Bacq
  • Published 2011 in Clinics and research in hepatology and gastroenterology


Liver disorders occurring during pregnancy may be specifically pregnancy-related, or may be due to an intercurrent or chronic liver disease, which may present in anyone, pregnant or not. This review focuses on the liver diseases unique to pregnancy. Hyperemesis gravidarum, which occurs during early pregnancy, may be associated with liver dysfunction. Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy typically occurs during the second or third trimester. Pruritus and the associated biological signs of cholestasis improve rapidly after delivery. Mutations in gene encoding biliary transporters, especially ABCB4 encoding the multidrug resistance 3 protein, have been found to be associated with this complex disease. Ursodeoxycholic acid is currently the most effective medical treatment in improving pruritus and liver tests. Pre-eclampsia, which presents in late pregnancy frequently involves the liver, and HELLP syndrome (Hemolysis-Elevated Liver enzymes-Low Platelets) is a life-threatening complication. Prognosis of acute fatty liver of pregnancy has been radically transformed by early delivery, and clinicians must have a high index of suspicion for this condition when a woman presents nausea or vomiting, epigastric pain, jaundice, or polyuria-polydipsia during the third trimester. Acute fatty liver of pregnancy has been found to be associated with a defect of long-chain 3-hydroxyacyl coenzyme A dehydrogenase in the fetus, and mothers and their offspring should undergo DNA testing at least for the main associated genetic mutation (c.1528G>C).


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