Lupoid hepatitis; Chronic acute liver disease
Last reviewed: November 23, 2010.
Autoimmune hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that occurs when immune cells mistake the liver’s normal cells for harmful invaders and attack them.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
In patients who have an autoimmune disease, the immune system can’t tell the difference between healthy body tissue and harmful, outside substances. The result is an immune response that destroys normal body tissues.
Liver inflammation, or hepatitis may occur along with other autoimmune diseases, including:
Inflammatory bowel disease
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Type 1 diabetes
Autoimmune hepatitis sometimes occurs in relatives of people with autoimmune diseases, which suggests that there is a genetic cause.
This disease is most common in young girls and women.
General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise)
Loss of appetite
Nausea or vomiting
Pale or clay-colored stools
Other symptoms that may occur with this disease include absence of menstruation (amenorrhea).
Signs and tests
Abnormal liver function tests
Liver biopsy showing chronic hepatitis
Tests for autoimmune hepatitis:
Anti-liver kidney microsome type 1 antibody (anti LKM-1)
Anti-nuclear antibody (ANA)
Anti-smooth muscle antibody (SMA)
Prednisone or other corticosteroid medications help reduce the inflammation. Azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine are drugs used to treat other autoimmune disorders. They have been shown to help patients with autoimmune hepatitis, as well.
Some patients may receive a liver transplant.
The outcome varies. Corticosteroid therapy may slow the disease progression. However, autoimmune hepatitis may worsen to cirrhosis and require a liver transplant.
Complications related to steroids and other medications