|Other names||Toxic liver disease, toxin-induced liver disease, drug-induced liver disease, drug-induced liver damage, drug-induced liver injury, hepatogenous poisoning|
Hepatotoxicity (from hepatic toxicity) implies chemical-driven liver damage. Drug-induced liver injury is a cause of acute and chronic liver disease.
The liver is an organ only found in vertebrates which detoxifies various metabolites, synthesizes proteins and produces biochemicals necessary for digestion. In humans, it is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, below the diaphragm. Its other roles in metabolism include the regulation of glycogen storage, decomposition of red blood cells and the production of hormones.
The liver plays a central role in transforming and clearing chemicals and is susceptible to the toxicity from these agents. Certain medicinal agents, when taken in overdoses and sometimes even when introduced within therapeutic ranges, may injure the organ. Other chemical agents, such as those used in laboratories and industries, natural chemicals (e.g., microcystins) and herbal remedies can also induce hepatotoxicity. Chemicals that cause liver injury are called hepatotoxins.
The therapeutic index is a quantitative measurement of the relative safety of a drug. It is a comparison of the amount of a therapeutic agent that causes the therapeutic effect to the amount that causes toxicity.The related terms therapeutic window or safety window refer to a range of doses which optimize between efficacy and toxicity, achieving the greatest therapeutic benefit without resulting in unacceptable side-effects or toxicity.
Microcystins — or cyanoginosins — are a class of toxins produced by certain freshwater blue-green algae. Over 50 different microcystins have been discovered so far, of which microcystin-LR is the most common. Chemically they are cyclic heptapeptides produced through nonribosomal peptide synthases.
Herbalism is the study of botany and use of plants intended for medicinal purposes. Plants have been the basis for medical treatments through much of human history, and such traditional medicine is still widely practiced today. Modern medicine makes use of many plant-derived compounds as the basis for evidence-based pharmaceutical drugs. Although herbalism may apply modern standards of effectiveness testing to herbs and medicines derived from natural sources, few high-quality clinical trials and standards for purity or dosage exist. The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to include fungal and bee products, as well as minerals, shells and certain animal parts.
More than 900 drugs have been implicated in causing liver injury(see LiverTox, external link, below) and it is the most common reason for a drug to be withdrawn from the market. Hepatotoxicity and drug-induced liver injury also account for a substantial number of compound failures, highlighting the need for toxicity prediction models (e.g. DTI), and drug screening assays, such as stem cell-derived hepatocyte-like cells, that are capable of detecting toxicity early in the drug development process. Chemicals often cause subclinical injury to the liver, which manifests only as abnormal liver enzyme tests.
Stem cells are cells that can differentiate into other types of cells, and can also divide in self-renewal to produce more of the same type of stem cells. broad types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells, which are isolated from the inner cell mass of blastocysts in early embryonic development, and adult stem cells, which are found in various tissues of fully developed mammals. In adult organisms, stem cells and progenitor cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing adult tissues. In a developing embryo, stem cells can differentiate into all the specialized cells—ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm —but also maintain the normal turnover of regenerative organs, such as blood, skin, or intestinal tissues.
Liver function tests, also referred to as a hepatic panel, are groups of blood tests that provide information about the state of a patient's liver. These tests include prothrombin time (PT/INR), aPTT, albumin, bilirubin, and others. The liver transaminases aspartate transaminase and alanine transaminase are useful biomarkers of liver injury in a patient with some degree of intact liver function. Most liver diseases cause only mild symptoms initially, but these diseases must be detected early. Hepatic (liver) involvement in some diseases can be of crucial importance. This testing is performed on a patient's blood sample. Some tests are associated with functionality, some with cellular integrity, and some with conditions linked to the biliary tract. Several biochemical tests are useful in the evaluation and management of patients with hepatic dysfunction. These tests can be used to detect the presence of liver disease, distinguish among different types of liver disorders, gauge the extent of known liver damage, and monitor the response to treatment. Some or all of these measurements are also carried out on those individuals taking certain medications, such as anticonvulsants, to ensure that the medications are not adversely impacting the person's liver.
Drug-induced liver injury is responsible for 5% of all hospital admissions and 50% of all acute liver failures.
Acute liver failure is the appearance of severe complications rapidly after the first signs of liver disease, and indicates that the liver has sustained severe damage. The complications are hepatic encephalopathy and impaired protein synthesis. The 1993 classification defines hyperacute as within 1 week, acute as 8–28 days, and subacute as 4–12 weeks. It reflects the fact that the pace of disease evolution strongly influences prognosis. Underlying cause is the other significant determinant of outcome.
Adverse drug reactions are classified as type A (intrinsic or pharmacological) or type B (idiosyncratic).Type A drug reaction accounts for 80% of all toxicities.
An adverse drug reaction (ADR) is an injury caused by taking medication. ADRs may occur following a single dose or prolonged administration of a drug or result from the combination of two or more drugs. The meaning of this expression differs from the meaning of "side effect", as this last expression might also imply that the effects can be beneficial. The study of ADRs is the concern of the field known as pharmacovigilance. An adverse drug event (ADE) refers to any injury occurring at the time a drug is used, whether or not it is identified as a cause of the injury. An ADR is a special type of ADE in which a causative relationship can be shown.
Drugs or toxins that have a pharmacological (type A) hepatotoxicity are those that have predictable dose-response curves (higher concentrations cause more liver damage) and well characterized mechanisms of toxicity, such as directly damaging liver tissue or blocking a metabolic process. As in the case of acetaminophen overdose, this type of injury occurs shortly after some threshold for toxicity is reached.
Idiosyncratic (type B) injury occurs without warning, when agents cause non-predictable hepatotoxicity in susceptible individuals, which is not related to dose and has a variable latency period.This type of injury does not have a clear dose-response nor temporal relationship, and most often does not have predictive models. Idiosyncratic hepatotoxicity has led to the withdrawal of several drugs from market even after rigorous clinical testing as part of the FDA approval process; Troglitazone (Rezulin) and trovafloxacin (Trovan) are two prime examples of idiosyncratic hepatotoxins pulled from market.
Oral use of ketoconazole has been associated with hepatic toxicity, including some fatalities;however, such effects appear to be limited to doses taken over a period longer than 7 days.
Acetaminophen (in the US and Japan), paracetamol (INN), also known by the brand name Tylenol and Panadol, is usually well tolerated in prescribed dose, but overdose is the most common cause of drug-induced liver disease and acute liver failure worldwide.Damage to the liver is not due to the drug itself but to a toxic metabolite (N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine (NAPQI)) produced by cytochrome P-450 enzymes in the liver. In normal circumstances, this metabolite is detoxified by conjugating with glutathione in phase 2 reaction. In an overdose, a large amount of NAPQI is generated, which overwhelms the detoxification process and leads to liver cell damage. Nitric oxide also plays a role in inducing toxicity. The risk of liver injury is influenced by several factors including the dose ingested, concurrent alcohol or other drug intake, interval between ingestion and antidote, etc. The dose toxic to the liver is quite variable from person to person and is often thought to be lower in chronic alcoholics. Measurement of blood level is important in assessing prognosis, higher levels predicting a worse prognosis. Administration of Acetylcysteine, a precursor of glutathione, can limit the severity of the liver damage by capturing the toxic NAPQI. Those that develop acute liver failure can still recover spontaneously, but may require transplantation if poor prognostic signs such as encephalopathy or coagulopathy is present (see King's College Criteria).
Although individual analgesics rarely induce liver damage due to their widespread use, NSAIDs have emerged as a major group of drugs exhibiting hepatotoxicity. Both dose-dependent and idiosyncratic reactions have been documented.Aspirin and phenylbutazone are associated with intrinsic hepatotoxicity; idiosyncratic reaction has been associated with ibuprofen, sulindac, phenylbutazone, piroxicam, diclofenac and indomethacin.
Glucocorticoids are so named due to their effect on the carbohydrate mechanism. They promote glycogen storage in the liver. An enlarged liver is a rare side-effect of long-term steroid use in children.The classical effect of prolonged use both in adult and paediatric population is steatosis.
Isoniazide (INH) is one of the most commonly used drugs for tuberculosis; it is associated with mild elevation of liver enzymes in up to 20% of patients and severe hepatotoxicity in 1-2% of patients.
There are also cases where other hydrazine derivative drugs, such as the MAOI antidepressant iproniazid, are associated with liver damage.Phenelzine has been associated with abnormal liver tests. Toxic effects can develop from antibiotics.
Examples include many amanita mushrooms (particularly the destroying angels), and aflatoxins.[ citation needed ] Pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which occur in some plants, can be toxic. Green tea extract is a growing cause of liver failure due to its inclusion in more products.
Examples include arsenic, carbon tetrachloride, and vinyl chloride.
Examples include: Ackee fruit, Bajiaolian, Camphor, Copaltra, Cycasin, Garcinia,Kava leaves, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, Horse chestnut leaves, Valerian, Comfrey. Chinese herbal remedies: Jin Bu Huan, Ma-huang, Shou Wu Pian, Bai Xian Pi.
|Factors influencing |
Drugs continue to be taken off the market due to late discovery of hepatotoxicity. Due to its unique metabolism and close relationship with the gastrointestinal tract, the liver is susceptible to injury from drugs and other substances. 75% of blood coming to the liver arrives directly from gastrointestinal organs and then spleen via portal veins that bring drugs and xenobiotics in near-undiluted form. Several mechanisms are responsible for either inducing hepatic injury or worsening the damage process. Many chemicals damage mitochondria, an intracellular organelle that produces energy. Its dysfunction releases excessive amount of oxidants that, in turn, injure hepatic cells. Activation of some enzymes in the cytochrome P-450 system such as CYP2E1 also lead to oxidative stress.Injury to hepatocyte and bile duct cells lead to accumulation of bile acid inside the liver. This promotes further liver damage. Non-parenchymal cells such as Kupffer cells, fat storing stellate cells, and leukocytes (i.e. neutrophil and monocyte) also have a role in the mechanism.
The human body identifies almost all drugs as foreign substances (i.e. xenobiotics) and subjects them to various chemical processes (i.e. metabolism) to make them suitable for elimination. This involves chemical transformations to (a) reduce fat solubility and (b) to change biological activity. Although almost all tissues in the body have some ability to metabolize chemicals, smooth endoplasmic reticulum in the liver is the principal "metabolic clearing house" for both endogenous chemicals (e.g., cholesterol, steroid hormones, fatty acids, proteins) and exogenous substances (e.g., drugs, alcohol).The central role played by liver in the clearance and transformation of chemicals makes it susceptible to drug-induced injury.
Drug metabolism is usually divided into two phases: phase 1 and phase 2. Phase 1 reaction is thought to prepare a drug for phase 2. However many compounds can be metabolized by phase 2 directly. Phase 1 reaction involves oxidation, reduction, hydrolysis, hydration and many other rare chemical reactions. These processes tend to increase water solubility of the drug and can generate metabolites that are more chemically active and potentially toxic. Most of phase 2 reactions take place in cytosol and involve conjugation with endogenous compounds via transferase enzymes. Chemically active phase 1 products are rendered relatively inert and suitable for elimination by this step.
A group of enzymes located in the endoplasmic reticulum, known as cytochrome P-450, is the most important family of metabolizing enzymes in the liver. Cytochrome P-450 is the terminal oxidase component of an electron transport chain. It is not a single enzyme, but rather consists of a closely related family of 50 isoforms; six of them metabolize 90% of drugs.There is a tremendous diversity of individual P-450 gene products, and this heterogeneity allows the liver to perform oxidation on a vast array of chemicals (including almost all drugs) in phase 1. Three important characteristics of the P-450 system have roles in drug-induced toxicity:
Each of the P-450 proteins is unique and accounts (to some extent) for the variation in drug metabolism between individuals. Genetic variations (polymorphism) in P-450 metabolism should be considered when patients exhibit unusual sensitivity or resistance to drug effects at normal doses. Such polymorphism is also responsible for variable drug response among patients of differing ethnic backgrounds.
|Potent inducers||Potent inhibitors||Substrates|
| Rifampicin, Carbamazepine, |
(St John's wort),
| Amiodarone, cimetidine, |
| Caffeine, clozapine,|
Many substances can influence the P-450 enzyme mechanism. Drugs interact with the enzyme family in several ways.Drugs that modify cytochrome P-450 enzyme are referred to as either inhibitors or inducers. Enzyme inhibitors block the metabolic activity of one or several P-450 enzymes. This effect usually occurs immediately. On the other hand, inducers increase P-450 activity by increasing its synthesis. Depending on the inducing drug's half life, there is usually a delay before enzyme activity increases.
Some drugs may share the same P-450 specificity and thus competitively block their bio transformation. This may lead to accumulation of drugs metabolized by the enzyme. This type of drug interaction may also reduce the rate of generation of toxic substrate.
|Type of injury:||Hepatocellular||Cholestatic||Mixed|
|ALT||≥ Twofold rise||Normal||≥ Twofold rise|
|ALP||Normal||≥ Twofold rise||≥ Twofold rise|
|ALT: ALP ratio||High, ≥5||Low, ≤2||2–5|
|Examples|| Acetaminophen |
| Anabolic steroid |
Chemicals produce a wide variety of clinical and pathological hepatic injury. Biochemical markers (e.g. alanine transferase, alkaline phosphatase and bilirubin) are often used to indicate liver damage. Liver injury is defined as a rise in either (a) ALT level more than three times of upper limit of normal (ULN), (b) ALP level more than twice ULN, or (c) total bilirubin level more than twice ULN when associated with increased ALT or ALP.Liver damage is further characterized into hepatocellular (predominantly initial Alanine transferase elevation) and cholestatic (initial alkaline phosphatase rise) types. However they are not mutually exclusive and mixed types of injuries are often encountered.
Specific histo-pathological patterns of liver injury from drug-induced damage are discussed below.
This is the most common type of drug-induced liver cell necrosis where the injury is largely confined to a particular zone of the liver lobule. It may manifest as a very high level of ALT and severe disturbance of liver function leading to acute liver failure.
In this pattern, hepatocellular necrosis is associated with infiltration of inflammatory cells. There can be three types of drug-induced hepatitis. (A) viral hepatitis is the most common, where histological features are similar to acute viral hepatitis. (B) in focal or non-specific hepatitis, scattered foci of cell necrosis may accompany lymphocytic infiltration. (C) chronic hepatitis is very similar to autoimmune hepatitis clinically, serologically, and histologically.
Liver injury leads to impairment of bile flow and cases are predominated by itching and jaundice. Histology may show inflammation (cholestatic hepatitis) or it can be bland (without any parenchymal inflammation). On rare occasions, it can produce features similar to primary biliary cirrhosis due to progressive destruction of small bile ducts (vanishing duct syndrome).
Hepatotoxicity may manifest as triglyceride accumulation, which leads to either small-droplet (microvesicular) or large-droplet (macrovesicular) fatty liver. There is a separate type of steatosis by which phospholipid accumulation leads to a pattern similar to the diseases with inherited phospholipid metabolism defects (e.g., Tay–Sachs disease)
Drug-induced hepatic granulomas are usually associated with granulomas in other tissues and patients typically have features of systemic vasculitis and hypersensitivity. More than 50 drugs have been implicated.
These result from injury to the vascular endothelium.
Neoplasms have been described with prolonged exposure to some medications or toxins. Hepatocellular carcinoma, angiosarcoma, and liver adenomas are the ones usually reported.
This remains a challenge in clinical practice due to a lack of reliable markers.Many other conditions lead to similar clinical as well as pathological pictures. To diagnose hepatotoxicity, a causal relationship between the use of the toxin or drug and subsequent liver damage has to be established, but might be difficult, especially when idiosyncratic reaction is suspected. Simultaneous use of multiple drugs may add to the complexity. As in acetaminophen toxicity, well established, dose-dependent, pharmacological hepatotoxicity is easier to spot. Several clinical scales such as CIOMS/RUCAM scale and Maria and Victorino criteria have been proposed to establish causal relationship between offending drug and liver damage. CIOMS/RUCAM scale involves a scoring system that categorizes the suspicion into "definite or highly probable" (score > 8), "probable" (score 6–8), "possible" (score 3–5), "unlikely" (score 1–2) and "excluded" (score ≤ 0). In clinical practice, physicians put more emphasis on the presence or absence of similarity between the biochemical profile of the patient and known biochemical profile of the suspected toxicity (e.g., cholestatic damage in amoxycillin-clauvonic acid ).
In most cases, liver function will return to normal if the offending drug is stopped early. Additionally, the patient may require supportive treatment. In acetaminophen toxicity, however, the initial insult can be fatal. Fulminant hepatic failure from drug-induced hepatotoxicity may require liver transplantation. In the past, glucocorticoids in allergic features and ursodeoxycholic acid in cholestatic cases had been used, but there is no good evidence to support their effectiveness.
An elevation in serum bilirubin level of more than 2 times ULN with associated transaminase rise is an ominous sign. This indicates severe hepatotoxicity and is likely to lead to mortality in 10% to 15% of patients, especially if the offending drug is not stopped (Hy's Law).This is because it requires significant damage to the liver to impair bilirubin excretion, hence minor impairment (in the absence of biliary obstruction or Gilbert syndrome) would not lead to jaundice. Other poor predictors of outcome are old age, female sex, high AST.
The following therapeutic drugs were withdrawn from the market primarily because of hepatotoxicity: Troglitazone, bromfenac, trovafloxacin, ebrotidine, nimesulide, nefazodone, ximelagatran and pemoline.
Disulfiram is a drug used to support the treatment of chronic alcoholism by producing an acute sensitivity to ethanol. Disulfiram works by inhibiting the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, causing many of the effects of a hangover to be felt immediately following alcohol consumption. "Disulfiram plus alcohol, even small amounts, produce flushing, throbbing in head and neck, throbbing headache, respiratory difficulty, nausea, copious vomiting, sweating, thirst, chest pain, palpitation, dyspnea, hyperventilation, tachycardia, hypotension, syncope, marked uneasiness, weakness, vertigo, blurred vision, and confusion. In severe reactions there may be respiratory depression, cardiovascular collapse, arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, acute congestive heart failure, unconsciousness, convulsions, and death."
Alcoholic liver disease is a term that encompasses the liver manifestations of alcohol overconsumption, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and chronic hepatitis with liver fibrosis or cirrhosis.
Isoniazid, also known as isonicotinylhydrazide (INH), is an antibiotic used for the treatment of tuberculosis. For active tuberculosis it is often used together with rifampicin, pyrazinamide, and either streptomycin or ethambutol. For latent tuberculosis it is often used by itself. It may also be used for atypical types of mycobacteria, such as M. avium, M. kansasii, and M. xenopi. It is usually taken by mouth but may be used by injection into muscle.
Liver disease is a type of damage to or disease of the liver. Whenever the course of the problem lasts long, chronic liver disease ensues.
Thromboxane is a member of the family of lipids known as eicosanoids. The two major thromboxanes are thromboxane A2 and thromboxane B2. The distinguishing feature of thromboxanes is a 6-membered ether-containing ring.
Cytochrome P450 3A4 is an important enzyme in the body, mainly found in the liver and in the intestine. It oxidizes small foreign organic molecules (xenobiotics), such as toxins or drugs, so that they can be removed from the body.
Cytochrome P450 2E1 is a member of the cytochrome P450 mixed-function oxidase system, which is involved in the metabolism of xenobiotics in the body. This class of enzymes is divided up into a number of subcategories, including CYP1, CYP2, and CYP3, which as a group are largely responsible for the breakdown of foreign compounds in mammals.
Drug metabolism is the metabolic breakdown of drugs by living organisms, usually through specialized enzymatic systems. More generally, xenobiotic metabolism is the set of metabolic pathways that modify the chemical structure of xenobiotics, which are compounds foreign to an organism's normal biochemistry, such as any drug or poison. These pathways are a form of biotransformation present in all major groups of organisms, and are considered to be of ancient origin. These reactions often act to detoxify poisonous compounds. The study of drug metabolism is called pharmacokinetics.
Toxication or toxification is the conversion of a chemical compound into a more toxic form in living organisms or in substrates such as soil or water. The conversion can be caused by enzymatic metabolism in the organisms, as well as by abiotic chemical reactions. While the parent drug are usually less active, both the parent drug and its metabolite can be chemically active and cause toxicity, leading to mutagenesis, teratogenesis, and carcinogenesis. Different classes of enzymes, such as P450-monooxygenases, epoxide hydrolase, or acetyltransferases can catalyze the process in the cell, mostly in the liver.
Tienilic acid or ticrynafen (USAN) is a loop diuretic drug with uric acid-lowering (uricosuric) action, formerly marketed for the treatment of hypertension. It was approved by FDA on May 2, 1979, and withdrawn in 1982, after case reports in the United States indicated a link between the use of ticrynafen and hepatitis.
Butalbital is a barbiturate with an intermediate duration of action. Butalbital is often combined with other medications, such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) or aspirin, for the treatment of pain and headache. The various formulations combined with codeine are FDA-approved for the treatment of tension headaches. Butalbital has the same chemical formula as talbutal but a different structure—one that presents as 5-allyl-5-isobutylbarbituric acid. Its use for headaches is discouraged due to its toxicity and the availability of safer agents.
Iproniazid is a non-selective, irreversible monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) of the hydrazine class. It is a xenobiotic that was originally designed to treat tuberculosis, but was later most prominently used as an antidepressant drug. However, it was withdrawn from the market because of its hepatotoxicity. The medical use of iproniazid was discontinued in most of the world in the 1960s, but remained in use in France until fairly recently.
Cytochrome P450 2C9 is an enzyme that in humans is encoded by the CYP2C9 gene.
NAPBQI is a toxic byproduct produced during the xenobiotic metabolism of the analgesic paracetamol (acetaminophen). It is normally produced only in small amounts, and then almost immediately detoxified in the liver.
The King's College Criteria or the King's College Hospital criteria were devised in 1989 to determine if there were any early indices of poor prognosis in patients with acute liver failure. Acute liver failure is defined as the onset of encephalopathy or coagulopathy within 26 weeks of a patient diagnosed with liver disease. Patients with hepatitis B acquired at birth, Wilson's disease and autoimmune hepatitis are included if their disease was identified within the past 26 weeks. These patients are very ill, and have a very high risk of dying of their illness without adequate treatment which may include liver transplantation. It is important that physicians find ways of identifying patients with acute liver failure early in their course who will do poorly, and may require liver transplantation. The King's College Criteria have consistently shown excellent operating characteristics for determining prognosis in these patients. As liver transplantation becomes a more accessible option for patients with acute liver failure, the King's College Criteria serve a role in determining which patients may require transplantation.
Cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase also known as cholesterol 7-alpha-monooxygenase or cytochrome P450 7A1 (CYP7A1) is an enzyme that in humans is encoded by the CYP7A1 gene which has an important role in cholesterol metabolism. It is a cytochrome P450 enzyme, which belongs to the oxidoreductase class, and converts cholesterol to 7-alpha-hydroxycholesterol, the first and rate limiting step in bile acid synthesis.
Benoxaprofen, also known as Benoxaphen, is a chemical compound with the formula C16H12ClNO3. It is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and was marketed under the brand name Oraflex in the United States and as Opren in Europe by Eli Lilly and Company. Lilly suspended sales of Oraflex in 1982 after reports from the British government and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of adverse effects and deaths linked to the drug.
The CIOMS/RUCAM scale is a tool to predict whether liver damage can be attributed to a particular medication.
Pharmacotoxicology entails the study of the consequences of toxic exposure to pharmaceutical drugs and agents in the health care field. The field of pharmacotoxicology also involves the treatment and prevention of pharmaceutically induced side effects. Pharmacotoxicology can be separated into two different categories: pharmacodynamics, and pharmacokinetics.
Paracetamol poisoning, also known as acetaminophen poisoning, is caused by excessive use of the medication paracetamol (acetaminophen). Most people have few or non-specific symptoms in the first 24 hours following overdose. This may include feeling tired, abdominal pain, or nausea. This is typically followed by a couple of days without any symptoms after which yellowish skin, blood clotting problems, and confusion occurs as a result of liver failure. Additional complications may include kidney failure, pancreatitis, low blood sugar, and lactic acidosis. If death does not occur, people tend to recover fully over a couple of weeks. Without treatment some cases will resolve while others will result in death.