Optimizing management in autoimmune hepatitis with liver failure at initial presentation

World J Gastroenterol. 2011 Apr 28;17(16):2070-5. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v17.i16.2070.


Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) is a disease of unknown etiology, its hallmark being ongoing hepatic inflammation. By its very nature, it is a chronic condition, although increasingly, we are becoming aware of patients with acute presentations, some of whom may have liver failure. There are very limited published data on patients with AIH with liver failure at initial diagnosis, which consist mostly of small retrospective studies. As a consequence, the clinical features and optimal management of this cohort remain poorly defined. A subset of patients with AIH who present with liver failure do respond to corticosteroids, but for the vast majority, an urgent liver transplantation may offer the only hope of long-term survival. At present, there is uncertainty on how best to stratify such a cohort into responders and non- responders to corticosteroids as soon as possible after hospitalization, thus optimizing their management. This editorial attempts to answer some of the unresolved issues relating to management of patients with AIH with liver failure at initial presentation. However, it must be emphasized that, at present, this editorial is based mostly on small retrospective studies, and it is an understatement that multicenter prospective studies are urgently needed to address this important clinical issue.

Keywords: Autoimmune hepatitis; Corticosteroids; Liver failure; Liver transplantation.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Hepatitis, Autoimmune / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis, Autoimmune / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis, Autoimmune / immunology
  • Hepatitis, Autoimmune / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Liver Failure / diagnosis
  • Liver Failure / drug therapy
  • Liver Failure / immunology
  • Liver Failure / surgery*
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones