Autoimmune hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is one in which a person's immune system attacks his or her own body for unknown reasons.
What is going on in the body?
The exact reason for autoimmune disorders is not known. In autoimmune hepatitis, the immune system attacks the liver and, sometimes, other parts of the body. The degree of liver inflammation can range from mild to deadly.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
The cause of autoimmune hepatitis is unknown. It may be an isolated condition or may occur as part of another autoimmune disorder, such as systemic lupus erythematosus. Autoimmune hepatitis most often occurs in women between the ages of 15 and 40. While the condition is seen in men, it is eight times more common in women.
New research findings suggest that autoimmune disorders may be triggered by a transfer of cells between the fetus and the mother during pregnancy. The study involved women with scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder involving the skin. These women have more fetal cells in their blood decades after a pregnancy than women who don't have scleroderma. While further research is needed to substantiate these findings, the study does offer an explanation for the much higher incidence of autoimmune disorders in women than in men.