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Am J Clin Pathol. 2000 Nov;114(5):705-11.

A spectrum of histopathologic findings in autoimmune liver disease.

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Department of Pathology, University of Basel, Switzerland.


We retrospectively studied 42 liver biopsy specimens from 39 patients who met serologic and histologic criteria of autoimmune liver diseases. We found 10 cases of overlap syndrome (OLS), 10 autoimmune cholangitis (AIC), 10 primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), and 9 autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) type 1. The following results were obtained: (1) Granulomas and biliary duct lesions were more prominent in PBC and AIC than in OLS and AIH. (2) Bile duct loss was not observed in AIH cases. (3) Features of hepatocellular damage such as piecemeal necrosis, spotty lobular necrosis, and confluent necrosis, were much more prevalent in OLS and AIH than in PBC and AIC. (4) HLA-DR antigen expression by hepatocytes was more frequent in AIH and OLS, whereas the expression of the same antigen by the bile duct epithelium was more frequent in PBC and AIC. We conclude there is a morphologic spectrum in autoimmune liver diseases, in which PBC forms one end of the spectrum, AIH the other, OLS the middle but closer clinically and histologically to AIH than to PBC, and AIC, which seems to be an antimitochondrial antibody-negative subtype of PBC.

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