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Semin Liver Dis. 2000;20(4):481-95.

Recurrent primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and autoimmune hepatitis after transplantation.

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  • 1Liver Study Unit, Section of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics, University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, MC4076, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Viral hepatitis and malignancy frequently recur after transplantation, but recurrence of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), and autoimmune hepatitis is controversial. Differences in study design, number of patients, immunosuppressive treatment, length of follow-up, and criteria for recurrence account for discrepant results. Most patients with suspected recurrent disease are asymptomatic after transplantation. In patients transplanted for PBC, antimitochondrial antibodies frequently persist and do not correlate with disease recurrence; liver biopsy remains the gold standard for diagnosis. Exclusion of other disorders that can mimic PBC is paramount prior to making a diagnosis of recurrent disease. The effects of immunosuppression may modify or delay disease expression within the graft. If PBC recurs, intermediate-term patient and graft survival is excellent, but long-term studies will be necessary to address the impact of disease recurrence on the allograft. Due to lack of a diagnostic gold standard, a diagnosis of recurrent PSC after transplantation is difficult to make. An accurate diagnosis of PSC recurrence requires well-defined cholangiographic and histologic criteria. Other disorders that can produce biliary strictures after transplantation should be excluded. As with PBC, the effects of immunosuppression may modify or delay disease expression within the graft; medium-term patient and graft survival is excellent. Recurrence of autoimmune hepatitis is based on clinical, biochemical, serologic, and histologic criteria. As in patients transplanted for PBC and PSC, other conditions that can mimic autoimmune hepatitis require exclusion prior to making a diagnosis of recurrence. Most adult recipients respond to an increase in immunosuppression, whereas pediatric recipients do not respond as well. A cautious approach to withdrawal of immunosuppression is warranted in all patients transplanted for autoimmune hepatitis and the consequences of recurrent disease within the graft will require prolonged follow-up. Future studies should focus on preventive and therapeutic strategies for recurrent autoimmune diseases after transplantation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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