It has been previously reported that British Columbia's (BC's) First Nations (Aboriginal) community has an increased risk of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatological conditions (rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus) and primary biliary cirrhosis. The researchers hypothesized that this community may also be at increased risk for autoimmune hepatitis (AIH).
Independent, retrospective reviews of the databases of two separate tertiary/quaternary British Columbia university-affiliated health care institutions, the Adult Liver Transplant Program of the BC Transplant Society and the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, BC Children's Hospital (Vancouver, BC), were performed. All patients referred with a diagnosis of probable or definite AIH who identified themselves as being of First Nations descent from 1988 to 2004 were reviewed. The liver transplant database records all adult patients in the province referred for transplant assessment. The pediatric database records all children referred to the BC Children's Hospital.
A total of 68 adult patients with a definite or probable diagnosis of AIH were referred to the liver transplant program. Twelve patients (17.6%) were Aboriginal, 11 of which were female. Similarly, a total of 30 children with probable or definite AIH were identified from the pediatric database. Six of these cases (20%) were identified in Aboriginal children.
The findings suggest an increased prevalence of AIH among BC's First Nations community. A disproportionate First Nations representation was found on independent review of two databases. Future studies are needed to determine the true prevalence of AIH in this community, and to uncover the genetic predisposition and the environmental triggers explaining this phenomenon.
Cites: Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Sep;97(9):2402-712358264