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Semin Liver Dis. 2002;22(2):169-83.

Hepatotoxicity of commonly used drugs: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antihypertensives, antidiabetic agents, anticonvulsants, lipid-lowering agents, psychotropic drugs.

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Storr Liver Unit, Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney at Westmead Hospital, Westmead, NSW, Australia.


Hepatotoxic adverse drug reactions have contributed to the decline of many promising therapies, even among mainstream medication classes (bromfenac and troglitazone are recent examples). The spectrum of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-related liver toxicity continues to expand, with reports in children, interactive toxicity in persons with hepatitis C, and recognition of the toxicity of both the preferential and selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors. Of the antihypertensive agents, methyldopa is now rarely prescribed and adverse effects are reported infrequently, whereas cases of liver injury associated with the angiotensin receptor and converting enzyme inhibitors are increasingly reported. Of the antidiabetic agents, acarbose, gliclazide, metformin, and human insulin have been implicated in causing liver injury. To date, the newer thiazolidinediones do not appear to share the hepatotoxic potential of troglitazone, although a few reports of acute hepatitis have accrued. Although liver injury has been associated with the "statins," the frequency of such toxicity is lower than that of the background population and the value of biochemical monitoring remains unproved. Newer concepts in anticonvulsant hepatotoxicity have been the recognition of the reactive metabolite syndrome, delineation of the risk factors for valproic acid toxicity, the potential role of carnitine in preventing valproic acid hepatotoxicity, and the toxicity of second-line antiepileptic drugs. Liver injury associated with newer psychotropic agents, particularly the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, is also discussed. The focus of the review is the hepatotoxicity of commonly used drugs with particular reference to recent and novel reports of toxicity. Well-known causes of liver injury such as chlorpromazine, phenytoin, and methyldopa are not discussed.

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