What is autoimmune hepatitis?
Autoimmune hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that occurs when immune cells mistake the liver's normal cells for harmful invaders and attack them. It is associated with other autoimmune diseases, including:
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.
- Abdominal distention
- Dark urine
- Generalized itching
- General discomfort, uneasiness or ill feeling (malaise)
- Loss of appetite
Nausea and vomiting
- Pale or clay-colored stools
- Abnormal liver function tests
- Liver biopsy showing chronic hepatitis
Prednisone or other corticosteroid medications help reduce the inflammation. Azathioprine and 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.