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Potential triggering factors of acute liver failure as a first manifestation of autoimmune hepatitis-a single center experience of 52 adult patients.

AIM: To investigate potential triggering factors leading to acute liver failure (ALF) as the initial presentation of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH).

METHODS: A total of 565 patients treated at our Department between 2005 and 2017 for histologically-proven AIH were retrospectively analyzed. However, 52 patients (9.2%) fulfilled the criteria for ALF defined by the "American Association for the Study of the Liver (AASLD)". According to this definition, patients with "acute-on-chronic" or "acute-on-cirrhosis" liver failure were excluded. Following parameters with focus on potential triggering factors were evaluated: Patients' demographics, causation of liver failure, laboratory data (liver enzymes, MELD-score, autoimmune markers, virus serology), liver histology, immunosuppressive regime, and finally, outcome of our patients.

RESULTS: The majority of patients with ALF were female (84.6%) and mean age was 43.6 ± 14.9 years. Interestingly, none of the patients with ALF was positive for anti-liver kidney microsomal antibody (LKM). We could identify potential triggering factors in 26/52 (50.0%) of previously healthy patients presenting ALF as their first manifestation of AIH. These were drug-induced ALF (57.7%), virus-induced ALF (30.8%), and preceding surgery in general anesthesia (11.5%), respectively. Unfortunately, 6 out of 52 patients (11.5%) did not survive ALF and 3 patients (5.7%) underwent liver transplantation (LT). Comparing data of survivors and patients with non-recovery following treatment, MELD-score ( P < 0.001), age ( P < 0.05), creatinine ( P < 0.01), and finally, ALT-values ( P < 0.05) reached statistical significance.

CONCLUSION: Drugs, viral infections, and previous surgery may trigger ALF as the initial presentation of AIH. Advanced age and high MELD-score were associated with lethal outcome.

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