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Clin Liver Dis. 2002 Aug;6(3):799-824.

Treatment strategies in autoimmune hepatitis.

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  • Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, MN 55905, USA. czaja.albert@mayo.edu


Prednisone alone or a lower dose in combination with azathioprine is effective in improving symptoms, resolving laboratory and histologic features, and prolonging survival in patients with autoimmune hepatitis. The combination regimen of prednisone and azathioprine is preferred because of its lower frequency of corticosteroid-related side effects. Only patients with severe inflammatory activity have absolute indications for therapy. Treatment must be individualized in patients with mild-to-moderate disease. Medication should be continued at fixed daily maintenance levels until a remission, treatment failure, drug intolerance, or incomplete response has been established. Histologic examination before drug withdrawal ensures remission when symptoms and laboratory tests are normal or near normal. Treatment failure warrants high-dose therapy, whereas drug toxicity and incomplete response compel regimens that are modified individually according to response. Low-dose prednisone or indefinite azathioprine therapy are indicated in patients who have relapsed multiply. Empiric nonsteroidal treatments include ursodeoxycholic acid, cyclosporine, mycophenolate mofetil, and tacrolimus, and they have been used in limited studies to treat recalcitrant disease or corticosteroid intolerance. Investigational therapies promise to target critical pathogenic mechanisms affecting immunocyte activation, autoantigen recognition, cytokine interactions, and regenerative activity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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