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J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2001 Jun;16(6):674-7.

Autoimmune liver disease in children.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, India.



Autoimmune liver disease (AILD) in children progresses to cirrhosis and liver failure if not diagnosed and managed in time. We prospectively analyzed our patients with liver disease for autoimmune etiology and their outcome with treatment.


All patients with liver disease were evaluated with liver function tests, abdominal ultrasonography, endoscopy, liver biopsy, viral markers and investigations for Wilson's disease. Immunoglobin (Ig)M hepatitis A virus, hepatitis E virus (HEV) and IgM hepatitis B core antibody were tested if acute viral hepatitis was suspected. Antinuclear antibody (ANA), antismooth muscle antibody (SMA), and liver kidney microsomal antibody (anti-LKM-1) were done in all cases. Autoimmune liver disease was diagnosed when one or more autoantibodies tested positive (> 1:40), and no other etiology of liver disease was identified. We also applied criteria proposed by the International Autoimmune Hepatitis Group. Cases diagnosed to have AILD were treated with immunosuppressive drugs.


Autoimmune liver disease constituted 3.9% (6/153; median age and duration of illness 8.5 years and 3 months, respectively) of chronic liver disease cases. Four patients had acute hepatitis-like presentation. Of the six cases, two each were ANA and SMA +; one was anti-LKM-1 +, and the other was positive for both SMA and anti-LKM-1. Three of the patients achieved remission with combination therapy of oral prednisolone (OP) and azathioprine (AZT), and one with only OP. The other two patients were not treated. Two of the patients in remission have been weaned off from immunosuppressive therapy, and one is in a withdrawal phase. Another patient, while in biochemical remission developed superimposed anicteric acute HEV infection.


Although AILD is uncommon in children, its search is rewarding, as remission is achieved with immunosuppressive therapy. Superimposed acute viral hepatitis can occur in endemic areas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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