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Case Rep Gastroenterol. 2010 Oct 26;4(3):469-475.

Autoimmune Hepatitis and Celiac Disease: Case Report Showing an Entero-Hepatic Link.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Medicine and Department of Digestive Diseases and Internal Medicine, Sant'Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, Università Alma Mater Studiorum di Bologna, Bologna, Italy.


Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder primarily targeting the small bowel, although extraintestinal extensions have been reported. The autoimmune processes can affect the liver with manifestations such as primary biliary cirrhosis and autoimmune hepatitis. We describe a 61-year-old woman with celiac disease and an increased levels of aminotransferases. The persistence of increased levels of aminotransferases after 1 year of gluten-free diet and the positivity for an anti-nuclear and anti-double-strand DNA antibodies led to a misdiagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus-related hepatitis. Based on these findings the patient was placed on steroids, which after a few months were stopped because of the onset of diabetes mellitus. Soon after steroid withdrawal, the patient had a marked increase in aminotransferases and γ-globulins, and a liver biopsy revealed chronic active hepatitis. A course of three months of steroids and azathioprine normalized both biochemical and clinical parameters. Currently the patient is symptom-free and doing well. In conclusion, a hypertransaminasemia persisting after a gluten-free diet should be interpreted as a sign of coexisting autoimmune liver disease. Any autoantibody positivity (in this case to ANA and anti-dsDNA) should be carefully considered in order to avoid misdiagnosis delaying appropriate clinical management.

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