Three distinct chronic inflammatory conditions affecting the liver: primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and a condition with mixed features, the overlap syndrome, have been described. The etiology and pathogenesis of each is poorly understood. Genetic susceptibility factors, immune dysfunction, infectious agents, and environmental toxins have all been implicated in the etiology and pathogenesis of these diseases.
Treatment for each disease is suboptimal and a significant fraction of patients still progress to cirrhosis and require liver transplantation. To improve the care of individuals with these diseases, a concerted effort has been undertaken to bring physicians and researchers together with varied expertise to tackle the many questions that remain unanswered in regard to these diseases.