Autoimmune hepatitis is a very rare chronic disease that affects the liver. It occurs when the immune system mistakes the liver for a foreign invader and attacks it. Over time, these attacks can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and even organ failure. Treatment and monitoring are crucial to prevent these dire consequences. There are two different types of autoimmune hepatitis. Type 1 can affect anyone of any age, although it is important to note it is extremely uncommon. Type 2 is typically diagnosed in children and usually does not develop in adulthood. Both types have a variety of causes, from heredity to viral infections.
One of the underlying causes of autoimmune hepatitis is genetics. A family history of this disease or other autoimmune diseases increases an individual's risk of developing autoimmune hepatitis. Scientists have not yet discovered specific gene mutations that might cause it. However, autoimmune hepatitis does seem to run in families, indicating there is likely an inherited gene mutation associated with it. With the advances in modern genomics, there may be a way to test for this gene mutation in the near future. Someone who has this gene mutation would not necessarily develop autoimmune hepatitis. Rather, they would be more susceptible than the average person. Genetic susceptibility is just one of many factors that contribute to causing the disease.
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