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Autoimmune Liver Diseases

Your liver plays a vital role in removing harmful substances, or toxins, from your blood.

Autoimmune liver disease occurs when the body's immune system attacks the healthy cells in the liver. If you have an autoimmune liver condition, experts at the UPMC Center for Liver Diseases can help.

What Causes Autoimmune Liver Diseases?

The causes for these types of liver diseases is unknown, but genetics may be a factor.

Other contributors might include:

  • Infections
  • Certain medicines
  • Exposure to certain chemicals

Types of Autoimmune Liver Diseases We Treat

At the UPMC Center for Liver Diseases, we treat the full range of autoimmune liver diseases, including:

  • Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH): AIH causes swelling and liver damage when your body's immune system attacks the liver. There are two types of AIH. Type one is the most common, with type two diagnosed more often in children.
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC): PBC damages and destroys the liver's small bile ducts or tubes. When this happens, bile, a fluid in your liver that helps with digestion backs up in the liver and causes damage.
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC): PSC damages the bile ducts located both inside and outside the liver. This damage can include swelling, scarring, and — over time — blockage of the ducts.

Autoimmune Liver Disease Treatment

Doctors recommend a variety of treatment options for different types of autoimmune liver diseases.

Treatments may include:

  • Corticosteroid drugs to reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Surgery or endoscopy to open narrow or blocked bile ducts.
  • Supplements to help increase your body's levels of certain vitamins — most often A, E, K, and D.
  • Topical drugs applied to the skin to help manage symptoms of certain autoimmune liver diseases, like itching.
  • Antibiotics to help the body fight bile duct infections.

Over time, autoimmune liver diseases can become severe and may cause the liver to stop working. In those cases, doctors may recommend a transplant to replace your liver with a healthy liver from a living or deceased donor.

Why Choose UPMC for Liver Disease Care?

Doctors at the UPMC Center for Liver Diseases treat the full range of liver conditions, no matter the severity of your disease.

Our world renowned hepatologists will work with you to:

  • Diagnose your liver disease early.
  • Treat your liver disease at any stage, with lifestyle changes, medicine, or surgery.
  • Improve your quality of life.

Our doctors work closely with experts at the UPMC Liver Transplant Program, one of the most experienced transplant centers in the country. Together, we care for those with severe liver damage and disease.

Contact the UPMC Center for Liver Diseases

To make an appointment at the UPMC Center for Liver Diseases, call 412-647-1170.