Background: The literature data on the recurrence of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLTX) is scanty.
Methods: We analyzed the frequency of recurrent AIH in 47 patients who had been transplanted for AIH and survived at least 1 year after surgery. The following criteria were applied to diagnose recurrence: (1) positive autoantibodies in the titer> or =1:40; (2) hypertransaminasemia; (3) histological features of chronic hepatitis; (4) need of reintroduction or significant increase of steroids; and (5) lack of serum markers of viral hepatitis.
Results: A total of 13 patients (1 male/12 females) developed recurrent AIH after an interval of 6-63 months after OLTX (mean 29 months). Mean AST level at recurrence was 542+/-129 U/L. Three patients from this group needed regrafting. Mismatch of DR3+ recipient and DR3- donor was not more common in the recurrent disease group (37%) compared to the nonrecurrence group (31%) (P=NS).
Conclusions: Recurrence of AIH after OLTX was diagnosed in a high proportion of patients and some of them required regrafting. DR3+ patients are not particularly prone to develop recurrence.