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Rare diseases

Polycystic liver disease

Profound impact on quality of life

Polycystic liver disease (PLD) is a rare, genetic and chronic disorder characterized by progressive growth of cysts in the liver, which can cause severe symptoms and result in impaired quality of life.

Disease overview

Severe symptoms and complications

Polycystic liver disease (PLD) is characterized by progressive growth of multiple (>10) fluid-filled cysts in the liver. The disease severity is affected by age and gender, with women suffering from symptomatic and severe disease to a greater extent than men.1,3

PLD leads to an increased liver size, which can cause severe symptoms such as abdominal pain and discomfort, shortness of breath (dyspnea), indigestion (dyspepsia), gastro-esophageal reflux, and limited mobility. The disease can also cause rare complications such as hepatic cyst hemorrhage and infection or rupture.4-7

Most patients with PLD are diagnosed in their 30s after reporting a sudden and accelerated increase of abdominal breadth together with PLD-related symptoms.8

Today, there are an estimated 37,000 patients living with PLD in the US, EU4 (France, Germany, Italy, Spain) and UK are today living with symptomatic PLD for whom there is a significant unmet medical need.9

Disease severity influenced by age and gender

Age and gender contribute to disease severity; increasing age is positively associated with both cyst sizes and numbers, and women are highly overrepresented among symptomatic patients.7,10-11

No approved medicines

There is currently no approved pharmacological treatment for symptomatic PLD in the EU or US.


  1. Gevers, T.J., et al. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 10(2): 101-8, 2018.
  2. Van Keimpema,  L., et al. Liver int. 31(1):92-8, 2011.
  3. Leao, R.N., et al. Polycystic liver disease. BMJ Case Rep. 2014.
  4. Abu-Wasel B., et al. World J Gastroenterol, 2013. 19(35): p. 5775-86. 
  5. Perugorria MJ, et al. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014;11(12):750-61.
  6. Neijenhuis MK, et al. United European Gastroenterol J. 2018;6(1):81-88.
  7. Cnossen WR, et al. Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2014;9: 69.
  8. van Aerts RMM, et al. J Hepatol. 68(4):827-37, 2018.
  9. In the US, EU4 and UK. Global Life Sciences report 2020; data on file.
  10. Gevers T. J. G., et al. Liver Int. May;35(5):1607-14, 2015. 
  11. Pisani A., et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. Jul;14(7):1022-30, 2016.
  • 1 in

    estimated to be affected by PLD 1,3

  • 37,000

    estimated to have symptomatic PLD in the US, EU4 and UK9


  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Early satiety
  • Gastoesophageal reflux
  • Rare complications: hepatic cyst hemorrage, infection, rupture


Diagnosis of PLD is made following imaging studies. Most patients with PLD are asymptomatic and are diagnosed incidental.4


Surgical treatment can reduce symptoms by decreasing liver volume in some patients. However, there is today no approved medical treatment alternative for patients with PLD.