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Autoimmune Liver Diseases

Autoimmune liver diseases occur when your body's immune system attacks the cells of your liver and biliary system (bile ducts and gallbladder). These conditions affect people of all ages and share common characteristics of other liver diseases such as hepatitis, alcohol-induced liver disease and cirrhosis.

There are three autoimmune liver diseases:

  • Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis

Autoimmune hepatitis can develop quickly with severe jaundice and may require hospitalization to stabilize your health. Symptoms such as fatigue and pain in the upper abdomen often do not appear until after liver damage occurs. Inflammation can damage cells and cause fibrosis.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cirrhosis are cholestatic liver diseases. These are conditions that stem from problems with bile formation or bile flow to the gallbladder and the small intestine. Both are rare conditions. Primary sclerosing cholangitis is marked by inflammation and scarring in your bile ducts. This leads to jaundice and liver failure. Most patients with this disorder are young and may also be dealing with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Primary biliary cirrhosis appears most often in women in their 40s and 50s. It is characterized by excessive itching and fatigue that can compromise your quality of life. Many patients describe vague symptoms and could suffer from low blood pressure, lack of mental clarity and depression.

When you are diagnosed with an autoimmune liver disease, you may feel overwhelmed. Our gastroenterologists and hepatologists are experts in treating your condition and managing symptoms so that you can maintain your health and normal lifestyle.

We are involved in many of the latest advances in understanding autoimmune liver conditions. Our physicians, through their affiliation with the Indiana University School of Medicine are conducting research studies into the genetic and environmental causes of autoimmune liver diseases through the Autoimmune Hepatitis Research Network. This work is leading to clinical trials for new medicines and therapies to reduce symptoms, slow disease progression and put you into remission.

Our extensive experience in managing post-transplant immune suppression after organ transplant gives us expertise in handling difficult-to-treat autoimmune hepatitis.

Autoimmune hepatitis and sclerosing cholangitis also impact children. We work with our pediatric gastroenterology program at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, one of the oldest pediatric gastroenterology programs in the nation.

Our partnership with the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology lets us access the most advanced procedures for diagnosing and treating your condition.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Autoimmune Liver Diseases Treatment Information

Treatments and symptom management for autoimmune liver diseases are undergoing many advances in ways that make more tolerable options available to you or your child. We deliver therapies that are more effective at reducing symptoms and achieving remission. Many clinical trials are underway and the latest treatments – if started early – can delay disease progression.

Autoimmune Liver Diseases Locations & Physicians

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Find a Specialist

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Autoimmune Liver Diseases Support Services

Learn more about autoimmune liver diseases treatments at these websites: