, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 309-321
Date: 06 Jan 2011

Cutting Edge Issues in Autoimmune Hepatitis

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Autoimmune hepatitis is an inflammatory liver disease affecting mainly females and characterised histologically by interface hepatitis, biochemically by elevated transaminase levels and serologically by circulating autoantibodies and increased levels of immunoglobulin G. Autoimmune hepatitis responds to immunosuppressive treatment, which should be instituted as soon as diagnosis is made. Seropositivity for smooth muscle and/or antinuclear antibody defines type 1 autoimmune hepatitis, while positivity for liver kidney microsomal type 1 antibody defines type 2 autoimmune hepatitis. The aetiology of autoimmune hepatitis is unknown, though both genetic and environmental factors are involved in its expression. The major mechanism of liver damage involves immune reactions against host liver antigens that are not adequately controlled by defective regulatory T cells. Current research aiming at potentiating regulatory T cell function in vitro to reconstitute tolerance in vivo has given promising results.