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    Autoimmune hepatitis

    Lupoid hepatitis; Chronic acute liver disease

    Autoimmune hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that occurs when immune cells mistake the liver's normal cells for harmful invaders and attack them.


    This form of hepatitis isan autoimmune disease.The body'simmune 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:

    • Graves disease
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Scleroderma
    • Sjogren syndrome
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus
    • Thyroiditis
    • Type 1 diabetes
    • Ulcerative colitis

    Autoimmune hepatitis sometimes occurs in relatives of people with autoimmune diseases. Thissuggests that theremay bea genetic cause.

    This disease is most common in young girls and women.


    • Abdominal distention
    • Dark urine
    • Fatigue
    • General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling (malaise)
    • Itching
    • Loss of appetite
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Pale or clay-colored stools

    Other symptoms that may occur with this disease include absence of menstruation (amenorrhea).

    Exams and Tests

    Tests for autoimmune hepatitis include:

    • Anti-liver kidney microsome type 1 antibody (anti LKM-1)
    • Anti-nuclear antibody (ANA)
    • Anti-smooth muscle antibody (SMA)
    • Serum IgG
    • Liver function tests
    • Liver biopsy to look for chronic hepatitis


    You may need prednisone or other corticosteroid medicines help reduce the inflammation. Azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine are drugs used to treat other autoimmune disorders. They have been shown to help people with autoimmune hepatitis, as well.

    Somepeople may need a liver transplant.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    The outcome varies. Corticosteroidmedicines may slow the progress of the disease. However, autoimmune hepatitis mayadvance to cirrhosis. This would require a liver transplant.

    Possible Complications

    • Cirrhosis
    • Side effects from steroids and other medicines
    • Hepatocellular carcinoma
    • Liver failure

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you notice symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis.


    Autoimmune hepatitis is usually cannot be prevented. Knowing therisk factors may allow early detection and treatment.


    Czaia AJ. Autoimmune hepatitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 88.


    • Digestive system


    • Digestive system organs


      • Digestive system


      • Digestive system organs


      A Closer Look

      Self Care

      Tests for Autoimmune hepatitis

      Review Date: 10/8/2012

      Reviewed By: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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