Data from the National Organization for Rare Disorders shows that roughly one to two individuals out of every 100,000 globally are diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis annually. This rare liver disorder is characterized by an autoimmune response against healthy cells in the liver, which leads to cirrhosis, liver failure and eventually, death. Some patients with this disorder undergo liver transplants to treat the illness when it’s in its advanced stages.
However, in some cases, the disease recurs, and not much has been known about what factors heightened the possibility of the disease recurring — until now. New research has outlined some risk factors and outcomes that may recur after patients with autoimmune hepatitis have undergone liver transplants.
The study was carried out by a large global consortium made up of various centers, including UT Southwestern. Assistant professor Mark Pedersen of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern, author of the study, stated that liver transplants were rarely performed in the United States because autoimmune hepatitis was a rare liver disorder. Figures show that in 2021, only about 9,200 liver transplants were carried out in the country.
Pedersen noted that the low numbers of transplants performed for this rare disorder made it hard to observe any outcomes or risks at only a single medical center as the number of patients would probably be small.
This is why for their study the researchers combined data from more than 700 patients with autoimmune hepatitis from 33 medical centers in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. Each of these patients had undergone liver transplants sometime from 1987 to 2020 to treat their illness, with the disorder recurring in about 150 of them after the transplant.
The researchers discovered various risk factors that heightened the chances of the disorder’s recurrence, including organ donor and recipient sex mismatch, use of mycophenolate mofetil after a liver transplant, being younger than 42 when receiving a liver transplant and having high amounts of immunoglobin IgG present before undergoing a liver transplant. Mycophenolate mofetil is an immunosuppressant drug.
In addition to this, the scientists found that recurrent autoimmune hepatitis impacted patients’ survival, noting that roughly 80% of patients whose disease recurred after a transplant survived for at least five years, which was lower than the more than 90% of patients who survived for the same period after the liver transplant.
The research’s discoveries represent a step forward in the potential prevention and better management of autoimmune hepatitis. The findings were reported in the “Journal of Hepatology.”
Autoimmune issues are raising such grave concern in the health sector that businesses such as Aditxt Inc. (NASDAQ: ADTX) are devoting significant resources in the search of technologies that can reprogram the immune system so that it works as it should instead of attacking the body.
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