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Z Gastroenterol. 2010 Nov;48(11):1293-6. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1245476. Epub 2010 Nov 1.

Giant cell hepatitis: an unusual cause of fulminant liver failure.

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Klinik und Poliklinik für Innere Medizin I, Universitätsklinikum Regensburg, Franz-Josef-Strauss-Allee 11, Regensburg.


Giant cell hepatitis is a very rare disease of unknown origin. It has been hypothesized that drugs, viral infections, or autoimmune reactions may play a pathogenetic role. Here, we describe a 33 year old patient with bacterial bronchitis who was treated with doxycycline (100 mg/d) for one week. Furthermore the patient complained of malaise and a distinct jaundice. Liver parameters increased dramatically (AST 4670 U/l, ALT 5350 U/l, bilirubin 226 µmol/l) and liver function was impaired (INR = 1,45). The ultrasound scan showed a hepatomegaly with no signs of cirrhosis, normal spleen size and normal bile ducts; liver perfusion was normal. No evidence of Wilson's disease, hemochromatosis, autoimmune hepatitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, hepatitis A, B, C and E, HIV, CMV, VZV, adenoviral infections, or paracetamol intoxication was found. Subsequently, the patient developed acute liver failure (AST 2134 U/l, ALT 2820 U/l, bilirubin 380 µmol/l, INR 3.0) and a beginning renal failure. Therefore, he was transferred to our transplant center. Due to increasing confusion and somnolence due to cerebral edema mechanical ventilation was needed. Because of an acute renal failure and severe hepatic encephalopathia MARS-hemodialysis was performed. Three weeks after the appearance of the jaundice he underwent liver transplantation (MELD 40). Surprisingly, in the explanted liver the diagnosis of giant cell hepatitis was made. Today--2 years after successful liver transplantation--the patient is in very good condition with normal liver function. In conclusion, giant cell hepatitis is a rare cause of acute liver failure that is often recognized only histologically.

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