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Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Aug;92(2):214-20. doi: 10.1038/clpt.2012.40. Epub 2012 Jun 27.

The effects of heparins on the liver: application of mechanistic serum biomarkers in a randomized study in healthy volunteers.

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Hamner-University of North Carolina Institute for Drug Safety Sciences, The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA.


Heparins have been reported to cause elevations in serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) but have not been associated with clinically significant liver injury. The mechanisms underlying these benign laboratory abnormalities are unknown. Forty-eight healthy men were randomized to receive subcutaneous injections of unfractionated heparin (UFH; 150 U/kg), enoxaparin sodium (1 mg/kg), dalteparin sodium (120 IU/kg), or adomiparin sodium (125 IU/kg; a novel heparin) every 12 h for 4.5 days. Asymptomatic elevations in serum ALT or AST were observed in >90% of the subjects. Elevations were also observed in the levels of serum sorbitol dehydrogenase (SDH), glutamate dehydrogenase (GLDH), miR-122, high-mobility group box-1 protein (including the acetylated form), full-length keratin 18, and DNA. Keratin 18 fragments, which are apoptosis biomarkers, were not detected. Biomarker profiles did not differ significantly across heparin treatments. We conclude that heparins as a class cause self-limited and mild hepatocyte necrosis with secondary activation of an innate immune response.

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