Background: Hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis occur in many types of chronic liver injury and generally seem to be irreversible.
Objective: To determine whether cirrhosis caused by autoimmune hepatitis can be reversible.
Design: Retrospective study.
Patients: Eight patients with autoimmune hepatitis and cirrhosis who responded to medical therapy and had follow-up liver biopsy while in clinical and biochemical remission.
Measurements: Biopsy specimens were randomly coded in an unpaired manner according to patient and were read independently by two pathologists using the Knodell scoring system.
Results: The median alanine aminotransferase level decreased from 10.30 µkat/L to 0.37 µkat/L, the median serum bilirubin level decreased from 70 µmol/L to 10 µmol/L, and the median serum albumin level increased from 34 g/L to 43 g/L. Cirrhosis, extensive fibrosis, or both were present in all patients at diagnosis but were not present on follow-up liver biopsy. The median Knodell score decreased from 14.0 to 1.3, and the median fibrosis score decreased from 3.3 to 0.8.
Conclusion: Hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis may be reversible in some patients in whom autoimmune hepatitis responds to treatment.