Learn About Autoimmune Hepatitis

View Main Condition: Hepatitis

What is the definition of Autoimmune Hepatitis?

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

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What are the alternative names for Autoimmune Hepatitis?

Lupoid hepatitis; Chronic active hepatitis

What are the causes of Autoimmune Hepatitis?

This form of hepatitis is an autoimmune disease. The body's immune system cannot tell the difference between healthy body tissue and harmful, outside substances. The result is an immune response that destroys normal body tissues.

Liver inflammation, or hepatitis, may occur along with other autoimmune diseases. These include:

  • Graves disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjögren syndrome
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Thyroiditis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Ulcerative colitis

Autoimmune hepatitis may occur in family members of people with autoimmune diseases. There may be a genetic cause.

This disease is most common in young girls and women.

What are the symptoms of Autoimmune Hepatitis?

Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise)
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Joint pain
  • Pale or clay-colored stools
  • Dark urine
  • Abdominal distention

Absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) may also be a symptom.

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What are the current treatments for Autoimmune Hepatitis?

You may need prednisone or other corticosteroid medicines to help reduce the inflammation. Azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine are drugs used to treat other autoimmune disorders. They have also been shown to help people with autoimmune hepatitis.

Some people may need a liver transplant.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Autoimmune Hepatitis?

The outcome varies. Corticosteroid medicines may slow the progress of the disease. However, autoimmune hepatitis may advance to cirrhosis. This could require a liver transplant.

What are the possible complications of Autoimmune Hepatitis?

Complications may include:

  • Cirrhosis
  • Side effects from steroids and other medicines
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Liver failure
  • Bleeding from varices
  • Ascites
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
When should I contact a medical professional for Autoimmune Hepatitis?

Call your health care provider if you notice symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis.

How do I prevent Autoimmune Hepatitis?

In most cases, autoimmune hepatitis cannot be prevented. Knowing the risk factors may help you detect and treat the disease early.

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What are the latest Autoimmune Hepatitis Clinical Trials?
Longitudinal Study for the Assessment of MRI Based Biomarkers as a Predictors of Clinical Endpoints in Pediatric Onset Autoimmune Liver Disease

Summary: Autoimmune liver diseases (AILD), which include Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) and Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH) are a common etiological factor for chronic liver disease among adolescents. This is a longitudinal study to identify surrogate endpoints with an accurate predictive value for the progression of hepatobiliary damage in subjects with pediatric onset AILD. This study will involve colle...

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Cross-sectional Study for Assessment of MRI Based Biomarkers of Bile Duct Injury and Hepatic Fibrosis in Pediatric Onset Autoimmune Liver Disease

Summary: Autoimmune liver diseases (AILD), which include Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) and Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH) are a common etiological factors for chronic liver disease among adolescents. In all these conditions, autoimmune lymphocyte responses are thought to orchestrate inflammatory injury against hepatocytes (primarily in AIH) or cholangiocytes (in PSC). In this proposal we aim to evaluate...

What are the Latest Advances for Autoimmune Hepatitis?
The Inconvenient Truth of Primary Biliary Cholangitis/Autoimmune Hepatitis Overlap Syndrome.
Acute Hepatitis A-Induced Autoimmune Hepatitis: A Case Report and Literature Review.
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Liver injury after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination: Features of immune-mediated hepatitis, role of corticosteroid therapy and outcome.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: October 27, 2020
Published By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Czaja AJ. Autoimmune hepatitis.In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 90.

Pawlotsky J-M. Chronic viral and autoimmune hepatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 140.