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A Journal on Internal Medicine
Indexed/Abstracted in: Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
Impact Factor 1,236
Minerva Medica 2008 December;99(6):549-68
Progress in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune hepatitis
Czaja A. J.
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Mayo Clinic College of Medicine Rochester, MN, USA
Autoimmune hepatitis has diverse clinical presentations which complicate its diagnosis and adverse outcomes which demand new treatments. The aims of this review are to indicate the progress that has been made in solving these problems and to illuminate the pathway for additional solutions. Prime source and review articles in English were selected through Medline from 1970-2008 and assimilated into a personal library spanning 31 years. Two diagnostic scoring systems with complementary virtues have been developed that are useful in evaluating patients with confusing features. Acute severe and fulminant presentations require prompt corticosteroid therapy, and coincidental bile duct changes and centrilobular zone 3 necrosis on histological examination do not discount the diagnosis. Cholangio-graphic changes may be present in children and adults with the disease, and antibodies to soluble liver antigen have prognostic value. Autoimmune hepatitis must be considered in patients without autoantibodies and with graft dysfunction after liver transplantation. Asymptomatic patients may not require immediate treatment, and the Model of End Stage Liver Disease identifies problematic patients early. Normal liver tests and tissue constitute the optimal end point of treatment, and the first relapse is an indication for long-term azathioprine therapy. Cyclosporine, tacrolimus and mycophenolate mofetil are promising salvage therapies, and budesonide with azathioprine can be used as frontline treatment in select patients. Progress has been made in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune hepatitis, but more work must be done. Multicenter clinical trials are essential before the incorporation of new drugs into the treatment algorithm.