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Lancet. 1991 May 18;337(8751):1183-7.

Identification of hepatitis A virus as a trigger for autoimmune chronic hepatitis type 1 in susceptible individuals.

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Infectious Diseases Unit, A. Pugliese Hospital, Catanzaro, Italy.


To identify factors contributing to the pathogenesis of autoimmune chronic active hepatitis (CAH) healthy relatives of 13 patients with the disorder were followed prospectively for 4 years. 58 relatives were monitored for various serological markers and for T-lymphocyte migration inhibitory activity every 2 months. 3 cases of subclinical acute hepatitis A occurred during the study. In 2 of the 3 subjects, before hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection, there was a defect in suppressor-inducer T lymphocytes specifically controlling immune responses to the asialoglycoprotein receptor, an antigen expressed on the hepatocyte surface. In these 2 subjects, specific helper T cells and antibodies to the asialoglycoprotein receptor persisted and increased after acute hepatitis A, and autoimmune CAH type 1 developed within 5 months. Thus, in susceptible individuals HAV is a trigger for autoimmune CAH.

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