Recurrence of disease following organ transplantation in autoimmune liver disease and systemic lupus erythematosus

Atsushi Tanaka, Hajime Kono, Patrick S.C. Leung, M. Eric Gershwin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Disease recurrence after organ transplantation associated with graft failure is a major clinical challenge in autoimmune diseases. Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH) are the three most common (autoimmune liver diseases) ALD for which liver transplantation (LT) is the most effective treatment option for patients with end-stage diseases. Although the 5- and 10-year survival rates of post-LT patients are remarkable (80–84% and 71–79% in PBC, 73–87% and 58–83% in PSC, 76–79% and 67–77% respectively in AIH patients), post-LT disease recurrence is not uncommon. Here, we summarize literature findings on disease recurrence of these ALD with emphasis on the incidence, risk factors and impact on long-term outcome. We noted that the incidence of disease recurrence varies between studies, which ranges from 53% to 10.9% in PBC, 8.2% to 44.7% in PSC and 7% to 42% in AIH. The variations are likely due to differences in study design, such as sample size, duration of studies and follow up time. This is further compounded by the lack of precise clinical diagnosis criteria and biomarkers of disease recurrence in these ALD, variation in post-LT treatment protocols to prevent disease recurrence and a multitude of risk factors associated with these ALD. While recurrence of PBC and AIH does not significantly impact long term outcome including overall survival, recurrent PSC patients often require another LT. Renal transplantation, like LT, is the treatment of choice in patients with end-stage lupus nephritis. While calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) and immunosuppressive drugs have improved the survival rate, post-transplant recurrence of lupus nephritis from surveillance-biopsy proven lupus nephritis range from 30% to 44%. On the other hand, recurrence of post-transplant lupus nephritis from registry survey analysis were only 1.1% to 2.4%. In general, risk factors associated with an increased frequency of post-transplant recurrence of autoimmune diseases are not clearly defined. Large scale multi-center studies are needed to further define guidelines for the diagnosis and clinical management to minimize disease recurrence and improve outcomes of post-transplant patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104021
JournalCellular Immunology
StatePublished - Jan 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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