What Is Autoimmune Hepatitis?
Autoimmune hepatitis is an autoimmune attack against liver cells that is characterized by inflammation and results in chronic liver disease which includes low blood albumin and cirrhosis.
Autoimmune hepatitis is diagnosed by detection of autoantibodies in blood and liver biopsy.
Q: What is cirrhosis?
A: Cirrhosis is a degenerative process of the liver that can be fatal. Normal lobular liver structure is distorted and replaced with nodules of regenerating liver cells separated by bands of fibrous tissue that cannot properly carry out liver function and block the necessary flow of blood through the liver, ending in liver failure.
The liver is the largest organ within the body and lies mostly in the upper part of the abdomen on the right side just under the diaphragm. About 70% of liver tissue is made up of cube shaped cells called hepatocytes that do the main work of the liver. Other cells form structure and are arranged in single layers around blood vessels, sinusoids, and bile ducts.
Bile ducts carry bile, a greenish brown liquid made by the liver, to the gall bladder for storage until needed to aid in the digestion and absorption of fat from the small intestine. Bile emulsifies fat eaten in the diet so that the pancreatic enzyme called lipase can break it down into its fatty acid and glycerol components.
The liver is a very busy organ, carrying out over 500 metabolic processes! Nutritionally, it is the first to receive all the blood carrying nutrients freshly absorbed from the digestive tract. Hepatocytes then convert the nutrients to provide the body with energy, a host of amino acids as building blocks for numerous cell activities, and proteins such as albumin and fibrinogen. In fact, hepatocytes build the structural proteins for the liver itself. Imagine the array of nutrients the liver uses and keeps at its disposal for its metabolic functions. Included in liver storage are vital vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A and vitamin B12.
As a detoxifier, Kupffer cells located in the sinusoids act like amoebas to engulf and digest unwanted matter. As a blood cleanser, the liver removes waste products produced by normal metabolism and toxic substances and rids it by preparing these substances for elimination in urine, such as ammonia converted to urea, and/or excreting them in bile for eventual elimination in stool. Bile is continually made by the liver from phospholipids salt, cholesterol, aging blood cells it removes from circulation.
Autoimmune hepatitis is classified into several types. Type 1 autoimmune hepatitis is the most common form in North America. Type 1 can occur at any age; however, it most often starts in adolescence or young adulthood. People with type 1 autoimmune hepatitis commonly have other autoimmune disorders (see listed below).
Type 2 autoimmune hepatitis is less common and occurs more often in children than adults. People with type 2 can also have any of the autoimmune disorders (see listed below).
Both types of autoimmune hepatitis are treated with prednisone, a corticosteroid hormone to control inflammation and reduce the body’s immune activity against the liver.1
What Is Autoimmune Hepatitis In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?
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- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse