Autoimmune hepatitis

  • Definition
    • Autoimmune hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. It occurs when immune cells mistake the liver's normal cells for harmful invaders and attack them.

  • Alternative Names
    • Lupoid hepatitis; Chronic acute liver disease

  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Exams and Tests
    • Tests for autoimmune hepatitis include:

      • Anti-liver kidney microsome type 1 antibody (anti LKM-1)
      • Anti-nuclear antibody (ANA)
      • Anti-smooth muscle antibody (SMA)
      • Serum IgG
      • Liver function tests
      • Liver biopsy to look for chronic hepatitis
  • Treatment
    • You may need prednisone or other corticosteroid medicines help reduce the inflammation. Azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine are drugs used to treat other autoimmune disorders. They have been shown to help people with autoimmune hepatitis, as well.

      Some people may need a liver transplant.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)
    • The outcome varies. Corticosteroid medicines may slow the progress of the disease. However, autoimmune hepatitis may advance to cirrhosis. This would require a liver transplant.

  • Possible Complications
  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Call your health care provider if you notice symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis.

  • Prevention
    • Autoimmune hepatitis cannot be prevented in most cases. Knowing the risk factors may help you detect and treat the disease early.

  • References
    • Czaia AJ. Autoimmune hepatitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 88.