The impact of ethnicity on the natural history of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) has not been well characterized. The aim of this study was to assess the natural history of AIH in blacks in comparison with others (nonblacks). This was a 10-year (June 1996 to June 2006) retrospective analysis of patients with AIH from a single tertiary care center. The diagnosis of AIH was defined by the criteria established by the International Autoimmune Hepatitis Club. A poor outcome was defined as liver failure at presentation, failure to achieve remission, need for liver transplantation, and/or death. One hundred one patients with AIH were eligible for the study. Black patients were more likely to have cirrhosis (56.7% versus 37.5%, P = 0.061), have liver failure at the initial presentation (37.8% versus 9.3%, P = 0.001), and be referred for liver transplantation (51.3% versus 23.4%, P = 0.004). The overall mortality was also significantly higher in black patients (24.3% versus 6.2%, P = 0.009). Compared with nonblacks, blacks had more advanced hepatic fibrosis (3.6 ± 2.7 versus 2.1 ± 2.4, P = 0.013). A Kaplan-Meier analysis showed that the probability of developing a poor outcome was significantly higher in blacks (P = 0.003). Independent predictors of poor outcome were black ethnicity, the presence of cirrhosis, and the fibrosis stage at presentation. Black males were the group most likely to have a poor outcome (85.7%). Conclusion: Blacks, especially black men with AIH, have more aggressive disease at the initial presentation, are less likely to respond to conventional immunosuppression, and have a worse outcome than nonblacks.
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