Unlike other forms of hepatitis, such as viral and toxic hepatitis, autoimmune hepatitis occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy liver cells. As a result, the liver becomes inflamed and hepatitis develops. In severe cases or if left untreated, the condition can lead to scarring of the liver, a condition known as cirrhosis, and ultimately to liver failure.
Research has shown that genetic factors may increase some people's risk of developing autoimmune hepatitis. While people of any age can develop autoimmune hepatitis, women between the ages of 20 to 40 are most commonly affected.
Our Approach to Autoimmune Hepatitis
UCSF offers the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options for patients with autoimmune hepatitis. We generally begin with a high dose of prednisone (a steroidal medication) to stop or slow the immune system's attack on the liver. We then taper the dose and may supplement the regimen with additional immune-suppressing medications to manage the condition long term.
Autoimmune hepatitis can lead to severe liver damage or failure. In these cases, a liver transplant may be necessary. Our liver transplant program, designated a center of excellence by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is known for outstanding outcomes and for helping pioneer techniques that have made transplants safer and more successful. We perform more than 100 transplants each year, and our survival statistics are among the best in the country.
Awards & recognition
Best hospital in Northern California
Best in Northern California in gastroenterology & GI surgery
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.