Background: A few children with acute or chronic liver disease display histological features compatible with autoimmune hepatitis, but lack specific serological markers. Aim: To describe features, management and outcome of childhood seronegative autoimmune hepatitis. Methods: From 1988 to 2010, 38 children were included under the following criteria: negative virological studies, no serum autoantibodies, exclusion of other causes of liver diseases, and liver histology compatible with autoimmune hepatitis. Results: Four groups were identified: (1) 12 with increased serum gamma globulin concentrations; (2) 10 with normal or low serum gamma globulins and no combined blood disease; (3) 10 with combined aplastic anemia; and (4) 6 with peripheral thrombocytopenia with/without neutropenia. Immunosuppressive treatment was associated with aminotransferases normalization in all but one child who required liver transplantation. Relapses occurred in 10 children. Lymphocytopenia was found at the time of the diagnosis of hepatitis in 13 children, 12 in groups 3 or 4. All 38 children are alive after 4-17 years, 18 still under immunosuppression. Conclusions: Childhood seronegative autoimmune hepatitis includes a spectrum of disorders. Early liver histology is recommended and, if compatible with autoimmune hepatitis, immunosuppressive treatment should be started. Initial lymphocytopenia may indicate future hematological complication.
- Autoantibody-negative autoimmune hepatitis
- Liver failure
- Liver transplantation
- Severe aplastic anemia
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