Autoimmune cholangitis: a variant of primary biliary cirrhosis. Clinicopathologic and serologic correlations in 200 cases

Dig Dis Sci. 1995 Jun;40(6):1232-42. doi: 10.1007/BF02065530.


The term "autoimmune cholangitis" is used for a disease with clinical and pathologic features of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) but with negative anti-mitochondrial antibody (AMA) and positive anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) tests. In order to characterize autoimmune cholangitis and to determine whether this truly differs from PBC, we reviewed 200 cases morphologically consistent with PBC in which data on AMA and ANA status were available to us. Of these, 64 (32%) had a negative AMA, 114 (57%) had a positive ANA, and 40 (20%) had negative AMA and positive ANA (autoimmune cholangitis). The AMA-negative group was slightly younger on average (50 vs 55 years) than AMA positives (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences in gender (15.5% male overall), hepatic histopathology, or other laboratory tests between the groups of patients with any of the 4 possible combinations of AMA and ANA. Since the only consistently distinguishing feature among these patients is the autoantibody (AMA and ANA) profile, and they otherwise have virtually identical clinical and histopathologic features, autoimmune cholangitis can be considered to be the same as AMA-negative PBC.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Autoimmune Diseases / classification
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology*
  • Biopsy
  • Cholangitis / classification
  • Cholangitis / immunology
  • Cholangitis / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / classification
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / immunology
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria, Liver / immunology
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Autoantibodies