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Keywords:

  • autoimmune hepatitis – liver transplantation

Abstract: Aims/Background: Studies on transplanted patients may provide clinically useful data on factors influencing progression of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) since transplantation rather than death may now be considered as the most likely end-point of the disease. The aim of this work was to analyze risk factors related to progression of AIH before transplantation and provide guidelines for further prognostication with regards to the timing of transplantation. Methods: 80 liver transplants in 68 patients with AIH were performed in our unit. The diagnosis was established on conventional clinical criteria. Parameters such as sex, age at diagnosis and transplantation or duration of the disease were evaluated in relation to: patient HLA DR status, disease presentation (aggressive or non-aggressive), presence of anti-LKM antibodies and concurrent immune disease. Results: AIH with concurrent immune disease occurred more commonly in females (90 vs. 61%; p= 0.0075) and was linked with markedly slower progression of the disease (125 vs. 66 mo; p=0.002) as compared to subjects without such association. AIH without concurrent autoimmune disease occurred significantly more commonly in patients with DR3 phenotype (p= 0.01). Patients with positive anti-LKM autoantibodies were younger at transplantation (25.6 vs 43.5 yr; p= 0.006) and had more rapid progression of their disease (14.3 vs. 103 mo; p= 0.001). Unlike previously reported series of non-transplanted patients, all anti-LKM positive subjects had no concurrent autoimmune disease. Conclusions: Coincidence with another autoimmune disease is associated with a significantly longer disease history prior to transplantation and may possibly reflect greater responsiveness to immunosuppressive therapy before grafting. AIH without concurrent autoimmune disease, particularly if associated with DR4 negative phenotype, male sex and anti-LKM antibodies may characterize patients with rapid progression of the disease. None of these factors had a significant influence on 5 year survival after surgery.