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Curr Mol Med. 2001 Jul;1(3):379-89.

Pediatric autoimmune liver diseases: the molecular basis of humoral and cellular immunity.

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Section of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Pediatric autoimmune liver disease is mainly represented by two similar liver disorders: autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and autoimmune sclerosing cholangitis (ASC), both characterized by hypergammalobulinemia, interface hepatitis and the presence of a wide range of circulating autoantibodies. Although similar features are seen in AIH and inflammatory bowel disease, histological biliary changes are more common in ASC. In addition to their role as diagnostic markers, autoantibodies, such as anti-extractable nuclear antigen (ENA) antibodies and liver kidney microsomal antibody type 1 (LKM1) may be involved directly in inducing aggressive liver diseases. Although the cellular immune response in pediatric autoimmune liver disease has been less intensively investigated than humoral immunity, the importance of antigen specific T cells has been explored. Both alphabeta and gammadelta T cells derived from either peripheral blood and liver biopsies have highly heterogeneous TCR gene usage and cytolytic activity has been demonstrated. There have been attempts to seek triggers of liver autoimmunity and several sequences shared in common between autoantigens and hepatotropic viruses, namely hepatitis B, C and cytomegalovirus have been identified. The presence of cross-reactivity between homologous sequences, especially between HCV and cytochromes, supports the possibility that molecular mimicry plays a role in the induction of autoantibodies and autoreactive cytotoxic T cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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