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Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Dec;6(12):1389-95; quiz 1287. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2008.08.018. Epub 2008 Aug 16.

Effects of serum aspartate aminotransferase levels in patients with autoimmune hepatitis influence disease course and outcome.

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Institute of Liver Studies, King's College Hospital, London, England.



Untreated patients with autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) who present with aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels that are more than 5-fold greater than the upper limit of normal (UPLN) have a mortality rate of up to 80%. This study evaluated whether serum AST levels of patients, determined at presentation, are associated with disease course or outcome.


The records of 235 patients (median age, 46 y; range, 5-80 y) who presented with AIH, based on International AIH Group score (median, 22; range, 16-28), between 1970 and 2005, were examined. AST levels at presentation were available for 213 patients, who were assigned to 3 groups: group 1, AST less than 2x the UPLN, n = 26 (median, 62 IU; range, 23-97 IU); group 2, AST 2 to 10x the UPLN, n = 71 (median, 241 IU; range, 107-500 IU); and group 3, AST greater than 10x the UPLN, n = 116 (median, 1073 IU; range, 563-4603 IU).


Patients in groups 1 and 2 had a significantly worse outcome (risk of liver transplantation or death) compared with those in group 3 (60% survival vs 82%; P = .01; odds ratio, 2.1). These patients were more likely to present with ascites (P < .001), hematemesis (P = .009), and cirrhosis or advanced fibrosis based on an index biopsy (P < .001). Patients in groups 1 and 2 also had lower bilirubin levels at presentation (P < .001) and were less likely to be symptomatic (P < .001).


In patients with AIH, AST levels greater than 10x the UPLN at presentation were associated with a lower risk of cirrhosis and a better long-term outcome than those with AST levels that were less than 10x the UPLN.

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