Autoimmune liver diseases and recurrence after orthotopic liver transplantation: what have we learned so far?

Transpl Int. 2009 Feb;22(2):144-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1432-2277.2008.00729.x. Epub 2008 Jul 24.


Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) may all recur after liver transplant. Diagnosis of rPBC is defined by histology; rAIH by serology, biochemistry and histology; rPSC by histology and/or imaging of the biliary tree and exclusion of other causes of nonanastomotic biliary strictures. Criteria for recurrent disease (RD) may differ from those used in similar disease in the native liver: frequent use of immunosuppressive therapy changes the pattern and natural history of RD and can co-exist with other transplant-related causes of graft damage. RD may occur in the presence of normal liver tests; the reported incidence will depend on the way in which diagnostic tests (especially protocol biopsies) are applied. The risk of RD increases with time, but does not correlate with the rate of graft loss. Treatment is largely unproven: ursodeoxycholic acid will improve serology and may slow progression of rPSC and rPBC; introduction or increased dose of corticosteroids may reduce progression of rAIH. Risk factors for rPBC include use of tacrolimus compared with cyclosporine; for rPSC include absence of colon peri-transplantation and for rAIH possible associations with some HLA haplotypes have been suggested.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / diagnosis
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / therapy
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases / diagnosis
  • Liver Diseases / immunology*
  • Liver Diseases / therapy
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Recurrence