Autoimmune hepatitis overlap syndromes: an evaluation of treatment response, long-term outcome and survival

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2008 Jul;28(2):209-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2008.03722.x. Epub 2008 Apr 23.


Background: Primary sclerosing cholangitis/autoimmune hepatitis (PSC/AIH) and primary biliary cirrhosis/AIH (PBC/AIH) overlap syndromes are poorly defined variants of AIH. Few large patient series exist, and there are little data on long-term outcomes.

Aim: To compare presentation, clinical course and outcome of patients with PSC/AIH and PBC/AIH, with patients with definite AIH. Methods Two hundred and thirty-eight AIH patients were compared with 10 PBC/AIH patients and 16 PSC/AIH patients presenting consecutively between 1971 and 2005 at a single centre.

Results: Autoimmune hepatitis patients were significantly more likely to present with jaundice (69.4% vs. 25%; P = 0.0145) than PBC/AIH patients. Median serum aspartate aminotransferase activity at presentation was higher in AIH patients compared with PBC/AIH and PSC/AIH patients respectively (620 vs. 94 vs. 224 IU/L; P < 0.05). PBC/AIH patients demonstrated no response to standard AIH therapy more frequently than AIH patients (25% vs. 0.8%; P = 0.0057). Significant reduction in survival was identified between patients with PSC/AIH and those without (hazard ratio: PSC/AIH vs. AIH = 2.08, PSC/AIH vs. PBC/AIH = 2.14; P = 0.039).

Conclusions: Patients with PSC/AIH have severe disease and significantly worse prognosis than patients with AIH or PBC/AIH. Recognition and close follow-up of this cohort are warranted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics / therapeutic use*
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / drug therapy*
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / mortality
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / pathology
  • Female
  • Hepatitis, Autoimmune / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis, Autoimmune / mortality
  • Hepatitis, Autoimmune / pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / drug therapy*
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / mortality
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / therapeutic use*


  • Cholagogues and Choleretics
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid