Drug-induced liver disorders: implications for drug development and regulation

Drug Saf. 2001;24(7):483-90. doi: 10.2165/00002018-200124070-00001.


Drug-induced hepatotoxicity is a frequent cause of liver disease. Although often presenting as acute hepatitis and/or cholestasis, virtually any clinical-pathological pattern of acute or chronic liver disease can occur. Most reactions occur in a small proportion of the population using a particular drug. Each drug associated with hepatotoxicity tends to have a characteristic signature regarding latency and pattern of injury. The mechanism can be drug metabolism-dependent or related to the chemical properties of the parent drug. The former are immune mediated or due to metabolic idiosyncrasy. Monitoring serum ALT levels is of unproven effectiveness but should be considered when there is an increased risk of delayed onset serious hepatitis-like reactions. The key for the future is improved identification of toxic potential in preclinical studies, clinical trials and postmarketing experience. The elucidation of the genetic and environmental mechanisms contributing to delayed idiosyncratic reactions is a major barrier to overcome in this field.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases / diagnosis
  • Liver Diseases / physiopathology
  • Product Surveillance, Postmarketing
  • Risk Factors