Mycophenolate Mofetil as Second Line Therapy in Autoimmune Hepatitis?

Elke M Hennes, David Adams, Ye Htun Oo, Christoph Schramm, Ulrike Denzer, Peter Buggisch, Christiane Wiegard, Stephan Kanzler, Marcus Schuchmann, Wulf Boecher, Peter R Galle, Ansgar W Lohse

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146 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: In patients with autoimmune hepatitis, efficient immunosuppressive therapy is essential to avoid progression to cirrhosis. There is no established second line therapy for patients failing standard therapy with steroids and azathioprine. The aim of this study was to examine the possible role of mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) as second line treatment of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH). PATIENTS AND METHODS: We were able to identify 37 patients (29 women, 8 men) with AIH proven according to International AIH Group criteria who failed standard therapy. One patient on MMF was excluded due to non-compliance. A total of 28 of 36 patients had experienced side effects necessitating stop of treatment. One patient stopped azathioprine due to pregnancy. A total of nine patients did not respond sufficiently to azathioprine. A total of four patients with a treatment duration of 3 months or less because of severe side effects were considered as intolerant to MMF. Remission was defined as aspartate transaminase (ASP) <twice upper normal limit (UNL). RESULTS: Of 36 patients on MMF included in the analysis, 14 patients (39%) experienced remission. A total of 22 patients (61%) did not respond sufficiently to MMF. The response rate to MMF was dependent on the cause of treatment cessation of azathioprine. Of eight patients with prior nonresponse to azathioprine, six (75%) did not respond to MMF and only two (25%) reached biochemical remission. Of 28 patients with azathioprine intolerance in 16 (57%) patients, the response to MMF was insufficient and in 12 patients (43%) remission was reached. The difference did not reach statistical significance due to the relatively small numbers included. CONCLUSION: In the light of its good tolerability, MMF seems to be an alternative for patients who could not tolerate azathioprine previously. However, our data suggest that a majority of patients fail MMF particularly if they are switched because of an insufficient response to azathioprine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3063-3070
Number of pages8
JournalThe American Journal of Gastroenterology
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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