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Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH) is a condition when an individual’s immune system attacks the cells of the liver, causing inflammation. It is a rare condition with prevalence estimated at 24.5 per 100,000 in the population, which also presents a sex-bias towards females (1).
Genetics are thought to play an important role in AIH activity. There are multiple genetic markers an individual can have within the ‘Human Leukocyte Antigen’ (HLA) gene region which are known to be linked in presence to AIH due to their impact on the structure of cell presentation known as ‘major histocompatibility complexes’ (MHCs). Changes in the structure of these from the differential genetics mentioned are thought to cause the body’s immune system to attack liver cells. Onset is believed to be more complex than just genetics however, with evidence that an environmental trigger such as infection may also be needed. With autoimmune conditions such as AIH, it is common for sufferers to have comorbidity with other autoimmune conditions (2).
Treatment aims to reduce autoimmune activity by reducing inflammation with steroids, and common treatment often involves the steroid, prednisolone along with the immunosuppressant azathioprine (3).
1 – Ngu et al (2010). Population-based epidemiology study of autoimmune hepatitis: A disease of older women? J. Gastroenterol Hepatol. 25(10:1681-1686).
2 – Fialho et al al. (2015). Autoimmune Hepatitis. Cleveland Clinic: Centre for Continuing Education
3 – British Liver Trust. (2006). Autoimmune Hepatitis. British Liver Trust