The immune system protects you from infections. Its main goal is to identify and kill things in your body that should not be there.
All the cells in your body carry markers called antigens. Different cells have different antigens. Bacteria, viruses, and other things that can cause infections all carry different antigens too. Your immune system uses these antigens to check if something should be in your body or not. Like checking an entry ticket.
The main defenders in a healthy immune system are white blood cells. These include B cells and T cells, together these are called lymphocytes.
B cells look for antigens that should not be there. If they find one, they produce antibodies that will lock on to the antigen. This is like putting up a flag. It tells T cells to kill the cell or virus with the antigen. Some T cells are called ‘killer T cells’.
After they are made, antibodies will stay in your body in case you have to fight the same thing again. The most common antibody is immunoglobulin G (IgG).
When you have autoimmune hepatitis, your immune system can also be triggered by your own cells. Your B cells also produce antibodies that stick to antigens on your own cells. These are called autoantibodies. This makes your T cells attack your own healthy liver cells. And this damages your liver and causes inflammation.
You will usually have more IgG in your body if you have autoimmune hepatitis. You will be tested for this when you are being diagnosed and to monitor how your body is responding to treatment.
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- Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC).
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).
- Non-alcohol related fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Your liver specialist can help you understand what an overlap syndrome means for you and your condition.
Published: June 2023
Review Due: June 2026