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J Hepatol. 2009 Jun;50(6):1210-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2009.01.020. Epub 2009 Mar 20.

Autoimmune hepatitis in Italy: the Bologna experience.

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Department of Clinical Medicine, Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, Policlinico Sant'Orsola-Malpighi, Via Massarenti, 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy.



Autoimmune hepatitis affects mainly women. It is subdivided into type 1 and type 2 according to the autoantibody profile and without immunosuppression usually evolves to cirrhosis and end-stage liver failure.


We evaluated clinical, biochemical, immunological and genetic features and treatment response of 163 consecutive Italian patients with autoimmune hepatitis.


At diagnosis, type 1 autoimmune hepatitis showed more inflamed liver histology and more pronounced cholestasis, whereas type 2 was more common in children. Male and female patients shared similar clinical, biochemical and immunological features. Of 89 patients with 5-year follow-up or longer, 23 patients irrespective of presenting clinical, biochemical and immunological features achieved complete remission (normal transaminases and gammaglobulin levels) which was maintained with minimal steroid dosage; attempt at treatment withdrawal led to disease exacerbation. Complete responders had more often HLA DRB1*0401 (p = 0.011) and their risk of disease progression was lower (p < 0.0001).


Type 1 and type 2 autoimmune hepatitis is one and the same disease. Autoimmune hepatitis has similar features in male and female patients. HLA DRB1*0401 positive patients are more likely to achieve complete remission. Continuous low-dose steroids are necessary to maintain remission, significantly reducing the risk of disease progression.

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