Familial associations between autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cholangitis and other autoimmune diseases

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Autoimmune hepatitis (AH) and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) are autoimmune diseases (AIDs) targeting cellular components of the liver. Being rare diseases, limited data are available about familial risks among these AIDs (concordant) or between them and other AIDs (discordant). We aimed to carry out an unbiased study on these AIDs based on medically diagnosed patients. We collected data on patients diagnosed in Swedish hospitals with AH, PBC and other AIDs and calculated familial standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) for concordant and discordant familial relative risks. The number of AH patients was 6,269, of whom 43.0% were male; patient numbers for PBC were 4,269, with 17.8% males. AH accounted for 0.8% and 0.6% of all hospitalized AIDs in Sweden. For AH only the familial risk between siblings was significant (3.83). For PBC the risks for offspring of parents (9.05) and siblings (10.88) were high, but only risk for females was significant. Spousal risks were very high, 5.91 and 6.07 for AH. Risk for AH was 2.21 in families of PBC, and it was 2.47 for PBC in families of AH patients. Among other AIDs, 14 showed a significant association with AH, compared to 16 AIDs with PBC. The surprising finding in this nation-wide family study on medically diagnosed patients was the high risk for AH (6.0) between spouses, which exceed the risk between siblings, suggesting the existence of strong environmental risk factors. AH and PBC were associated with multiple other AIDs. The results call attention to environmental factors in AID etiology which should also be in focus in taking anamnestic data from patients.


External organisations
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • German Cancer Research Centre
  • Shimane University
  • University Hospital in Pilsen
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Infectious Medicine
  • Immunology in the medical area
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0240794
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication categoryResearch