Autoimmunity reviews

Autoimmune hepatitis: evolving concepts.

PMID 15110233


The liver is continuously exposed to a large antigenic load that includes pathogens, toxins, tumor cells and dietary antigens. A loss of tolerance against its own antigens may result in autoimmune hepatitis (AIH). The current paradigm holds that the disease is the result of self-perpetuating autoimmune process triggered by yet unknown factors (infections, chemicals, drugs) in a genetically susceptible host. To date, several putative hepatocellular surface antigens have been identified: P450-IID6 (recognized by the anti-LKM-1 autoantibodies) a membrane bound asialoglycoprotein receptor (a liver-specific membrane protein), a cytosolic UGA-suppressor tRNA associated protein (recognized by anti-SMA and anti-LP antibodies) and argininosuccinate lysate and formiminotransferase cyclodeaminase (recognized by ant-LC1 antibodies). In contrast to other chronic hepatitides patients with AIH display significant T cell hypereactivity to autologous liver antigens. Tissue injury seems to be mediated by CD4+ or CD8+ T cells and/or by antibody-dependent cell mediated cytotoxicity.