Autoimmune Liver Diseases Treatment Program
The Mount Sinai Hospital is highly regarded as a center for the treatment of liver diseases. It is the only hospital in New York with a division that treats only liver diseases. In addition, Mount Sinai has more hepatologists (liver specialists) on staff than any other hospital or medical center in New York City.
The Division of Liver Diseases at The Mount Sinai Hospital is respected worldwide for innovative research and state-of-the-art treatment for all forms of liver disease. Over many decades, researchers at Mount Sinai have produced ground breaking results to improve our understanding of autoimmune liver diseases: primary biliary cirrhosis; primary sclerosing cholangitis; and autoimmune hepatitis. The diseases are uncommon and their causes remain poorly defined unfortunately. Treatment options for each disease are limited and may have significant side-effects. A significant proportion of individuals with these diseases develop cirrhosis and may go on to need liver transplantation.
About Autoimmune Liver Disease
Autoimmune liver diseases are typically chronic conditions. This means that patients may experience persistent immune system attacks that destroy liver cells. As cells die, scar tissue known as fibrosis forms. Fortunately, autoimmune diseases tend to progress slowly. Many patients experience long periods without symptoms.
When fibrosis does become extreme and liver function is weakened, the condition is called cirrhosis. Also known as liver failure or end-stage liver disease, the only successful cure for this condition is organ transplantation. However, many individuals with cirrhosis can have their symptoms successfully managed with medication and avoid the need for transplantation.
A large number of patients with autoimmune liver disease also have additional forms of autoimmunity. Liver specialists work closely with other experts at Mount Sinai to provide a comprehensive approach to treating multiple autoimmune conditions, thereby keeping immune system activity and symptoms under control.
Most patients with chronic autoimmune liver disease are managed successfully by Mount Sinai liver specialists and their colleagues in rheumatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, radiology, and pathology, using state of the art methods of diagnosis and treatment. However, when end-stage liver disease develops, liver transplantation may be required. Of note, those with cirrhosis due to autoimmune liver disease do particularly well after transplantation. Mount Sinai has had long experience in caring for hundreds of patients with autoimmune liver disease who have required liver transplantation after having lived many years with this chronic condition.
Mount Sinai’s Liver Diseases Research
The focus of our research at Mount Sinai has been to identify means to slow the progression of these diseases. To this end, both the genetic basis of these diseases and the environmental influences are under evaluation as well as treatments with minimal side effects. These studies have led to several investigator-initiated pilot clinical trials as well as collaborations with international consortiums. Equally important has been the team’s dedication to providing comprehensive and state-of-the-art care for individuals with these diseases from diagnosis to post transplantation care if needed. The team also supports patient-directed self-help groups for those with primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis.