Cyclosporin A is a promising alternative to corticosteroids in autoimmune hepatitis
Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), a chronic T- cell-mediated liver injury, is treated with corticosteroids with or without Azathioprine. Corticosteroids are not universally effective and have serious side effects. Cyclosporin A was effective in refractory cases. To assess efficacy and safety of Cyclosporin A (Neoral) in induction of remission in AIH patients this study was performed. Nineteen consenting AIH patients (nine treatment-naive) were treated with cyclosporin A in an open label trial and followed for 26 weeks. Liver biopsy was done and hepatitis activity index (HAI) determined at the beginning and end of treatment. Four patients did not complete the study for various reasons. Mean AST and ALT levels decreased from 948.7 +/- 103.5 and 454.8 +/- 354 to 100.6 +/- 111.8 and 78.5 +/- 40.3 (P < 0.03,P < 0.001) respectively. HAI decreased from 15.2 +/- 3.16 to 7.14 +/- 4.01 (P < 0.005). Serum creatinine did not change significantly. In conclusion, low-dose cyclosporin A appears to be safe and effective even in treatment-naive autoimmune hepatitis patients. Randomized controlled trials are warranted.