1 Department of Pathology University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston TX.
2 Infectious Disease Division, Department of Internal Medicine University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Houston TX.
3 Department of Pathology Dalhousie University Halifax Canada.
4 Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston TX.
5 Department of Hepatology Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York NY.
6 Department of Pathology Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York NY.
Patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) often have elevated serum markers and histologic features of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH). We evaluated an HCV-positive (HCV+) study group that had elevated serum markers of AIH before starting direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy (n = 21) and compared them to an HCV+ control group that did not have laboratory studies suggesting AIH (n = 21). Several patients in the study (17/21) and control (11/21) groups had liver biopsies before DAA treatment, and many were biopsied due to elevated serum markers of AIH. Evaluation of pre-DAA treatment liver biopsies showed histologic features suggestive of AIH in 64.7% (11/17) of the study group and 45.5% (5/11) of the control group. Patients who were HCV+ with elevated serum markers of AIH had significantly increased hepatitis activity (P < 0.001) and slightly increased fibrosis stages (P = 0.039) in their pretreatment liver biopsies compared to controls. We hypothesized that the elevated serum markers and histologic features of AIH would resolve following DAA treatment. Serum markers of AIH in the study group began decreasing by 6 months posttreatment, and 52.4% (11/21) had complete resolution. Alanine aminotransferase levels significantly decreased into the normal range for all patients (21/21). Even patients that had persistence of serum markers of AIH after DAA treatment had normal transaminases. Six patients from the study patient group and 4 patients from the control group had follow-up liver biopsies after DAA treatment, and all biopsies showed resolution of the histologic features of AIH. Conclusion: The majority of HCV+ patients that have serum markers and/or histopathologic features of AIH should initially be treated with DAA.