Published online Apr 28, 2011. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v17.i16.2070
Revised: November 4, 2010
Accepted: November 11, 2010
Published online: April 28, 2011
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.