While patients want to understand what causes autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), the truth is many will never know for certain what triggered their disease. There’s still much to learn about what causes AIH, and researchers are working hard to find answers.


AIH is caused by an overactive immune system that attacks normal liver cells because it mistakes them for foreign agents such as viruses or bacteria. It’s a rare autoimmune liver disease that affects all ages and ethnicities; however, it affects men and women disproportionately.

90% Female

10% Male

Various medications (nitrofurantoin and minocycline, among others) and some viruses (Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, herpes, hepatitis A, B, and C, and parvovirus B19) have been associated with AIH. Other environmental factors have also been considered, such as significant stress and chemical exposures.

Scientists believe that AIH, like many other autoimmune diseases, is caused by genetic risk factors and environmental exposures.


One hurdle clinicians face in determining the underlying causes of autoimmune hepatitis is access to large groups of patients to study.

The Autoimmune Hepatitis Association’s Patient Registry allows you to support research into the causes of autoimmune
hepatitis. By joining the AIHA Patient Registry, you can advance scientific knowledge for this rare disease.