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A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M.; 2013.

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Autoimmune hepatitis

Lupoid hepatitis; Chronic acute liver disease

Last reviewed: October 8, 2012.

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

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

This form of hepatitis is an autoimmune disease. The body's immune system can't 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, including:

Autoimmune hepatitis sometimes occurs in relatives of people with autoimmune diseases. This suggests that there may be a genetic cause.

This disease is most common in young girls and women.

Symptoms

Other symptoms that may occur with this disease include absence of menstruation (amenorrhea).

Signs and tests

Tests for autoimmune hepatitis include:

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.

Expectations (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.

Complications

Calling your health care provider

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

Prevention

Autoimmune hepatitis is usually cannot be prevented. Knowing the risk factors may allow early detection and treatment.

References

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

Review Date: 10/8/2012.

Reviewed by: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.

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Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

What works?

  • No evidence to support or refute glucocorticosteroids for viral hepatitis CNo evidence to support or refute glucocorticosteroids for viral hepatitis C
    Acute infection with viral hepatitis C manifests most commonly no symptoms, but frequently results in chronic infection. Chronic hepatitis C is in most cases benign, but may progress to severe illness and liver‐related death. This review found no significant effect of glucocorticosteroids on chronic hepatitis, but the amount of data is sparse. Accordingly there is insufficient evidence to neither confirm nor exclude beneficial and harmful effects of glucocorticosteroids for hepatitis C. Further, the evidence is unclear as to whether glucocorticosteroids treatment can be safely administered for other diseases in patients with concomitant hepatitis C. The authors were unable to identify randomised clinical trials on glucocorticosteroids for acute hepatitis C.
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