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Open Access Research article

Low incidence of positive smooth muscle antibody and high incidence of isolated IgM elevation in Chinese patients with autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis overlap syndrome: a retrospective study

Pan Zhao1 and Yukun Han2*

Author Affiliations

1 Liver Failure Therapy and Research Center, Beijing 302 Hospital, Beijing 100039, China

2 Case-history Office, Beijing 302 Hospital, Beijing 100039, China

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BMC Gastroenterology 2012, 12:1  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-12-1

Published: 3 January 2012

Abstract

Background

Up to now, few data are available regarding the clinical characteristics of autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis overlap syndrome. The study was to investigate and analyze the prevalent and clinical features of Chinese patients with this disease.

Methods

Clinical data on patients diagnosed as autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis overlap syndrome in our hospital from January 2001 to December 2006 were collected and analyzed.

Results

Overlap syndrome of autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis accounted for 10.33% of patients with autoimmune liver diseases during the past six years. For these patients with overlap syndrome, xanthochromia, lethargy and anorexia were the predominant complaints; a low incidence (14/146) of smooth muscle antibody positivity and a high incidence (37/89) of isolated IgM elevation were the main serological characteristics.

Conclusions

Overlap syndrome of autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis was not rare in Chinese patients with clinical manifests of autoimmune liver diseases. Overlap of the diseases should not be disregarded when isolated IgM elevation was exhibited, and smooth muscle antibody might have little diagnostic significance in the overlap syndrome. If it was difficult to make a definite diagnosis, liver biopsy was necessary.

Keywords:
autoantibody; overlap syndrome; autoimmune hepatitis; primary biliary cirrhosis