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Z Gastroenterol. 2001 May;39(5):339-41, 344-8.

Long-term management and prognosis of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH): a single center experience.

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  • 1I. Department of Medicine, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Controlled trials have firmly established the need for immunosuppressive therapy in autoimmune hepatitis. However, reports about long-term management and prognosis of the disease are scarce.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

We reviewed the charts of 103 consecutive patients with a well-documented long-term course of autoimmune hepatitis who had been carefully managed over a mean observation period of 95 months (12-405 months).

RESULTS:

Under immunosuppressive therapy 94 patients (91.2%) reached complete remission after a mean treatment duration of 3 +/- 3 months. 28 of the 103 patients (27.2%) were eligible for a trial of treatment withdrawal after a mean treatment duration of 32.2 months (range: 12-81 months). 21 of these patients (75%) had a relapse following treatment withdrawal. 13.6% of patients had intolerance of or severe side effects to azathioprine. There was no increase in tumor risk during a cumulative observation period of 423 patient-years of azathioprine therapy. Corticosteroid side effects occurred mostly during induction therapy, but were usually minor and resolved upon dose reduction. During a cumulative observation period of 842 patient-years no liver related deaths occurred and no patient had to be referred to liver transplantation, even though 30 patients (29.1%) had histological evidence of cirrhosis at presentation. The overall 5- and 10-year survival of patients with autoimmune hepatitis was identical to an age- and sex-matched control population.

CONCLUSION:

Our study shows that the majority of patients with AIH do achieve a complete remission within 3 months, but require long-term or permanent immunosuppressive therapy that is usually well tolerated. Long-term survival in well-managed patients is excellent.

PMID:
11413913
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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