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Natural History and Treatment Outcomes of Severe Autoimmune Hepatitis

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The aim of this study was to analyze the natural history and treatment outcomes of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) variants presenting with severe-AIH.


Severe acute presentation is an uncommon manifestation of AIH, and it remains poorly characterized.

Materials and Methods:

We included 101 patients with AIH from January 2011 to December 2015. Patients were classified as seropositive-AIH and seronegative-AIH. Patients with acute liver failure, acute-on-chronic liver failure, and severe acute hepatitis were defined as severe-AIH patients. Patient characteristics and treatment outcomes with follow-up until 12 months were analyzed between the different groups.


Out of 101 cases, 24 (23.76%) had severe AIH. Of them 9 (37.5%) had severe acute hepatitis, 3 (12.5%) had acute liver failure, and 12 (50%) had acute-on-chronic liver failure. Seronegative-AIH patients presented with severe-AIH significantly more frequently compared with seropositive-AIH patients (50% vs. 20.27%, P=0.022). Severe-AIH had 50% complete responders, 25% partial responders, and 25% treatment failures. Jaundice (88.88% vs. 68.7%, P=0.048), encephalopathy (55.55% vs. 6.66%, P=0.014), and higher international normalized ratio values (2.17±0.60 vs. 1.82±0.14, P=0.038) were factors associated with nonresponse rather than the presence or absence of autoantibodies in severe-AIH. The hazard ratio for predicting remission in the non-severe AIH group as compared with the severe-AIH group was 1.502, which was statistically not significant (95% CI, 0.799-2.827; P=0.205).


Approximately 24% of patients with AIH have severe-AIH. Conventional autoantibodies are often absent in severe-AIH; however, it does not alter the outcome. Immunosuppressants should be given expediently in patients with severe-AIH.
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Keywords: acute liver failure; autoimmune hepatitis–induced liver failure; seronegative-autoimmune hepatitis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Gastroenterology, Topiwala National Medical College and BYL Ch Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Publication date: July 1, 2017

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