OBJECTIVES: African Americans are at an increased risk for certain diseases and more frequently suffer complications of those diseases relative to their white counterparts. Most studies of autoimmune hepatitis consist of entirely white populations. The Emory University system of hospitals serves a large African American population, including a significant number of African Americans with autoimmune hepatitis. The goal of this study was to determine if the presentation and response to therapy in African Americans is, like other diseases, different than in whites. METHODS: This is a retrospective study from a tertiary referral center that examines the initial presenting features and response to therapy of African Americans (n = 27) and whites (n = 24) with autoimmune hepatitis. RESULTS: Eighty-five percent of African Americans had cirrhosis on the initial liver biopsy, as compared with 38% of whites. Although not statistically significant, the African Americans presented at an earlier age than white patients. The disease also appeared more advanced in African Americans, as bilibubin levels tended to be higher, but not significantly, and PTs were more prolonged. Both groups responded well to therapy, with significant falls in serum levels of AST, ALT, and bilirubin. Fifty percent of African Americans and 48% of whites entered a biochemical remission. The amount of prednisone required to maintain remission at follow-up was greater in African Americans. CONCLUSION: In contrast to whites, the majority of African Americans present with cirrhosis. Despite the high prevalence of cirrhosis, the response to therapy is good. However, more immunosuppression is required to control the disease in African Americans.
ASJC Scopus subject areas