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Primary Biliary Cirrhosis

Overview :

Although the cause of this serious condition is not known, it has many features to suggest that it is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmunity describes the process whereby the body's defense mechanisms are turned against itself. The immune system is supposed to recognize and attack only dangerous foreign invaders like germs, but many times it attacks, for no apparent reason, the cells of the body itself. Autoimmune reactions occur in many different tissues of the body, creating a great variety of diseases.

Primary biliary cirrhosis progressively destroys the system that drains bile from the liver into the intestines. Bile is a collection of waste products excreted by the liver. As the disease progresses it also scars the liver, leading to cirrhosis. In some patients, the disease destroys the liver in as little as five years. In others, it may lie dormant for a decade or more.

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