Cyclosporine therapy in patients with steroid resistant autoimmune hepatitis

Am J Gastroenterol. 1999 Jan;94(1):241-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.1999.00807.x.


Autoimmune hepatitis is a form of chronic liver disease characterized by progressive hepatocellular inflammation, which usually responds to treatment with corticosteroids. However, 10% of patients with autoimmune hepatitis are refractory to corticosteroids and develop progressive liver disease and cirrhosis. We describe five patients with autoimmune hepatitis who did not respond to conventional corticosteroids and azathioprine therapy who were then treated with cyclosporine A. Cyclosporine A was started at 2-3 mg/kg/day and induced biochemical remission in four of five patients within 3 months. One of the four responders relapsed within 1 month of discontinuing cyclosporine on two occasions. Each time, liver tests promptly normalized after reinitiation of cyclosporine. Two responders were managed with cyclosporine alone. The single patient who did not respond to cyclosporine developed progressive liver failure, underwent orthotopic liver transplantation, and subsequently died of disseminated cytomegalovirus infection. Cyclosporine was generally well tolerated and none of the patients developed renal insufficiency. These data and review of 11 cases in the literature show that cyclosporine can induce remission of liver disease in patients with autoimmune hepatitis who are refractory to corticosteroids.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cyclosporine / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Resistance
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Hepatitis, Autoimmune / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis, Autoimmune / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclosporine
  • Prednisone