Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms


Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP)noun al·ka·line phos·pha·tase | \ˈal-kə-lən, -ˌlīn\ \ˈfäs-fə-ˌtās, -ˌtāz\
One of several biochemical markers in the body that can be used to diagnose PBC and track the disease. Part of the liver panel blood test that looks at liver health overall. ALP is made in the liver, bone and other tissues and is measured during a routine blood test. Abnormally high levels may indicate liver disease or bile duct obstruction

Antimitochondrial antibodies (AMAs)noun an·ti mi·to·chon·dri·al an·ti·bod·ies | \ˈan-ˌtī, ˈan-tē\ \ˌmī-tə-ˈkän-drē-əl\ \ˈant-i-ˌbäd-ē\
One of several biochemical markers in the body that can be used to diagnose PBC

Autoimmune diseasenoun au·to·im·mune dis·ease | \ˈȯ-(ˌ)tō, ˈä-\ \-im-ˈyün\ \di-ˈzēz\
An illness that occurs when the body’s tissues are attacked by its own immune system. PBC is thought to be an autoimmune disease

Asymptomaticadjective asymp·tom·at·ic | \ˌā-ˌsim(p)-tə-ˈma-tik\
Without symptoms. Often times, people with PBC do not have symptoms indicating the disease, or the presence of symptoms can change over time

Bilenoun \ˈbī(-ə)l\
A yellow-green fluid that is made by the liver, stored in the gallbladder and passes through the bile ducts. Bile helps digest fat in the body

Bile ductnoun \ˈbī(-ə)l\ \ˈdəkt\
A tube-like structure in the liver that transports bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine to help with digestion

Biliaryadjective bil·i·ary | \ˈbi-lē-ˌer-ē, -e-rē\
Having to do with the bile ducts, gallbladder, or bile

Bilirubinnoun bil·i·ru·bin \ˌbi-li-ˈrü-bən, ˈbi-li-ˌ\
Bilirubin is the yellow breakdown product of normal haeme catabolism, caused by the body’s clearance of aged red blood cells that contain haemoglobin. Bilirubin is excreted in bile and urine, and elevated levels may indicate certain diseases

Cholangitisnoun chol·an·gi·tis \ˌkō-ˌlan-ˈjīt-əs\
Inflammation of the bile ducts

Cholestasisnoun cho·le·sta·sis \ˌkō-lə-ˈstā-səs, ˌkäl-ə-\
A decrease in bile flow due to impaired secretion or obstruction of bile flow

Cirrhosisnoun cir·rho·sis \sə-ˈrō-səs\
Severe scarring of the liver. In some advanced cases, cirrhosis can lead to liver failure

Fatiguenoun fa·tigue \fə-ˈtēg\
Extreme tiredness. One of the prominent symptoms of PBC

Fibrosisnoun fi·bro·sis \fī-ˈbrō-səs\
Excess connective tissue in an organ that can lead to damage and scarring

Jaundicenoun jaun·dice \ˈjȯn-dəs, ˈjän-\
Yellow appearance of the skin and eyes that can be caused by liver damage

Livernoun liv·er \ˈliv-ər\
The largest solid organ in the body, situated in the upper part of the abdomen on the right side. The liver helps the body digest food, store energy, and remove toxic materials

Progressiveadjective pro·gres·sive \prə-ˈgres-iv\
Increasing in scope or severity. PBC is defined as a progressive disease

Pruritusnoun pru·ri·tus \prü-ˈrīt-əs\
Clinical term for severe itching, and a common symptom of PBC


Kumagi T, Healthcote E.J. Primary biliary cirrhosis. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. 2008; 3:1. doi:10.1186/1750-1172-3-1.

Primary Biliary Cirrhosis. U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Liver or Hepatic Diseases. U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus.

How Does the Liver Work?” PubMed Health. The U.S. National Library of Medicine site, Informed Health Online [Internet].


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